REPORTED BY DYLAN HOUSMAN, HEALTHCARE REPORTER | May 13, 2022
President Joe Biden’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may have directly contributed to the ongoing nationwide baby formula shortage without proving any babies died from baby formula.
The FDA announced Feb. 17 that a major Abbott Nutrition plant in Michigan, responsible for producing massive quantities of baby formula, was under investigation for links to bacterial outbreaks, including salmonella. The agency helped Abbott initiate a recall of its baby formula. Yet neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nor the FDA have been able to prove that any babies got sick from Abbott’s formula, according to The Wall Street Journal.
There were two types of infections initially reported to the FDA, and linked back to the Abbott facility: Cronobacter sakazakii and salmonella. FDA inspectors found bacteria at the Abbott plant, but the company has strongly denied that it’s actually responsible for the reported infections, according to the outlet.
The company claims the evidence is on their side. The places at the facility where FDA inspectors found bacteria were not in contact with formula products, and genetic tests performed by the CDC determined that the cronobacter strains in the facility did not match those which caused the infections, according to The WSJ, citing Abbott. That hasn’t stopped the Biden administration from blaming Abbott for the shortage. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the cause of the shortage was not anything to do with the Biden administration, but was caused by Abbott making “unsafe” baby formula. (RELATED: Lawmaker Says Migrants Are Getting ‘Pallets’ Of Baby Formula Amid Nationwide Shortage)
“The issue here is that a manufacturer was taken offline because they did not produce a safe baby formula,” Psaki said Thursday. “I think it’s also important to note that the reason we’re here is because the FDA took a step to ensure that babies were taking safe formula. There were babies who died from taking this formula, so they were doing their jobs.”
Abbott said it will begin ramping production back up next week, if approved by the FDA, the WSJ reported. But it will take weeks for the facility to get fully back online, the company said, meaning the shortage intensified by supply chain woes and inflation could continue.