(CNN) — Specialty formula production restarted Saturday at the Abbott plant in Sturgis, Michigan, that has been at the center of a recall and a factor in a nationwide formula shortage.
Abbott said it is starting with production of EleCare, an amino acid-based hypoallergenic product for babies who can’t tolerate other formulas, as well as other specialty formulas. Abbott said the first batches of Elecare product are expected to be available to consumers around June 20.
Similac and other products made at the plant will take longer to become available.
“We’re also working hard to fulfill the steps necessary to restart production of Similac and other formulas and will do so as soon as we can,” the company said in a Saturday statement.
The Sturgis plant has been shut down for months following a US Food and Drug Administration inspection that found Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria — which can be deadly to infants — in several areas. Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powdered infant formulas made at the plant were recalled, and the closure exacerbated shortages caused by supply chain disruptions. Families across the United States have struggled to find formula for infants and for people with specific nutrition needs.
In May, a federal judge signed off on an agreement between the US Food and Drug Administration and Abbott that laid out the steps the company needed to take to restart production.
“We understand the urgent need for formula and our top priority is getting high-quality, safe formula into the hands of families across America,” Abbott said in its statement. “We will ramp production as quickly as we can while meeting all requirements. We’re committed to safety and quality and will do everything we can to re-earn the trust parents, caregivers and health care providers have placed in us for 130 years.”
President Joe Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act to direct suppliers of formula ingredients to prioritize delivery to formula makers. The administration also created Operation Fly Formula to import formula from abroad.
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