A infant formula factory that was the source of a nationwide shortage the previous year has been the subject of a criminal investigation by the US authorities.
One of America’s biggest plants, the one in Michigan, was shut down in February due to contamination.
Its closure, when combined with challenges with the worldwide supply chain, resulted to the biggest scarcity of infant formula in decades.
Abbott Laboratories, which owns and operates the plant, acknowledged that it was under investigation.
A spokeswoman said in a statement that “the DOJ [Department of Justice] has alerted us of its inquiry and we’re completely cooperating.” The probe was initially reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Health regulators discovered germs at the factory in February, forcing the company—one of the biggest manufacturers of infant formula in the US—to recall numerous powdered infant formulae and halt manufacturing. These bacteria have the ability to cause babies to contract severe diseases.
Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration Agency (FDA) claimed to have discovered evidence of unhygienic circumstances.
Due to worldwide supply chain concerns during the coronavirus epidemic, a nationwide formula scarcity already existed and was made worse by the shutdown and recall.
Watch this video to see a plane arrive in the US carrying 35 tonnes of baby formula.
Abbott provided the FDA with a remedial action plan in April of last year and soon after agreed to take various corrective measures, including engaging an outside consultant to examine its internal processes.
The factory restarted in June but was forced to close again for a few weeks due to storm-related flooding. Then, in July, it started producing again.
The FDA looked into claims that up to nine kids had passed away after drinking formula made at the facility, though it was unable to prove a direct connection between the fatalities and the factory.
According to Abbott, neither its products nor the germs are directly responsible for the diseases that killed the newborns.
At the time, there was a formula shortage across the nation, which prompted the White House to exploit the Defense Production Act to import millions of bottles from abroad.
Some people sought out formula on the black market despite cautions against purchasing goods that had not been authorized for shipment to the US.
Others attempted to manufacture their own mixtures, which prompted specialists to issue a warning against doing so.