Supply chain interruptions were problematic enough, but the closure of a production facility for baby formula by Abbott Laboratories in Michigan last year started a chain reaction that caused nationwide shortages in 2022.
Initially, the information about “contaminated” baby food formula, including Similac and other big-name products, indicated that there were some contaminated products that were causing bacterial infections in infants. The truth, according to federal investigators, is much, much worse.
Why is Abbott Laboratories under a federal microscope?
Officials say that what they found at the plant in Michigan wasn’t just some ordinary mistake that led to contamination but part of a cluster of problems.
When officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspected, they found equipment that was outdated and damaged ,employees who failed to wash their hands, standing water in parts of the plant and signs that this wasn’t the first time a bacterial contamination had happened.
Indeed, agency officials were tipped off about problems at the plant back in late 2021, after a whistleblower alleged that the facility wasn’t clean and that the company had purposefully falsified records to keep the FDA off their back.
It’s important to note that manufacturers are always liable when manufacturing defects, like a bacterial contamination in a product that’s meant for human consumption, cause harm. That is probably why Abbott Laboratories initially tried to deny any connection between at least two infant deaths and numerous hospitalizations and its products.
The new criminal probe shows that the federal government doesn’t think the allegations are without merit. It also adds a new dimension to the culpability of the company for its actions.
The nationwide formula shortage has eased – partially because Abbott Laboratories and the FDA reached an agreement that allowed the Michigan plant to resume production. However, the nightmare for the parents of infants who were injured or killed by the contaminated product is far from over. If your child was injured by contaminated formula, it’s wise to find out more.