In The News: Crucial Infant Formula Arrives From Europe/Abbott’s Accountability

Due to supply chain problems, and the closing of a plant in Michigan that produces much of America’s stock of infant formula, many parents have been unable to find adequate supplies of formula to feed their infants.

Last week president Biden announced the plan known as Operation Flyover to direct the Department of Defense to work on getting shipments of infant formula into the United States from European nations.

According to the White House, 78,000 pounds of specialty infant formula arrived in a first shipment from Germany on Sunday. A second shipment from the same location is expected to arrive soon.

The Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, was there to greet the plane when it arrived. “This is an important step, but it is by no means the only step that must take place,” he told the press. We will continue to work as the president has instructed us to look for every opportunity to increase supply.

“This particular formula is for a very small percentage of children. Roughly 17,000 children in the country basically are the beneficiaries of this particular formula.”

Abbott CEO Robert Ford apologized for his company’s role in the situation.

“We will not take risks when it comes to the health of children,” he wrote Saturday in the Washington Post. “The data collected during the investigation, genetic sequencing, retained product samples and available product from the four complaints did not find any connection between our products and the four reported illnesses in children. However, the FDA’s investigation did discover a bacteria in our plant that we will not tolerate. I have high expectations of this company, and we fell short.”

According to the FDA’s investigation, the complaint filed by the Department of Justice on the FDA’s behalf, product produced at the Sturgis facility was done so under unsanitary conditions. Ford’s expectations for his company’s integrity didn’t fall short. They fell off a cliff.

According to Politico, a former employee of the Sturgis plant informed the FDA about safety violations concerning cleaning procedures, in October of last year, that alleges to include falsifying records and “efforts by plant officials to keep the FDA from learning about serious issues related to the plant’s own system for checking for bacteria in formula, among other things.”

The document prompted House Appropriations Chair, Rosa DeLaurio to call for accountability.

“I am deeply concerned about the practices at this Abbott facility and their apparent failure to implement and enforce internal controls at this facility,” she said. “I am equally concerned that the FDA reacted far too slowly to this report.

“Why did the FDA not Spring into action?” DeLaurio continued. “Why did it take four months to pull this formula off the shelves? How many infants were fed contaminated formula during this time?”

All good questions, which someone should answer for and be held accountable.

Sources: The Week, Reuters, Politico.

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