GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An FDA report found multiple problems at a southwest Michigan plant that manufactures baby formula.
Abbott Laboratories plant in Sturgis is tied to a recent cluster of infant hospitalizations, including two baby deaths due to a rare bacterial infection.
Sarah Sorscher, the deputy director of regulatory at the Center for Science Research in the Public Interest, said the report shows Abbott failed to maintain a sanitary facility, with inspectors finding multiple locations with Cronobacter bacteria.
“They flagged that there was issues with water dripping and pooling in areas where it could cause risks. Evidence of equipment that was being poorly maintained that had cracks, drying equipment that hadn’t been tested to ensure that it was thoroughly drying the formula,” Sorscher said.
She said the report does not provide a specific answer regarding how baby formula in these cases became contaminated.
Abbott also recalled formula made at its Sturgis plant back in 2010 after small bugs were found in one section of the plant.
The company responded to News 8’s questions about the outbreak with a written statement.
“We value the trust parents and caregivers place in us and ensuring the safety and quality of our products is our top priority. No Cronobacter sakazakii or Salmonella was found in any of our testing of products distributed to consumers. In addition, the unique genetic makeup of the Cronobacter sakazakii microbes found in non-product areas at the Sturgis facility did not match the Cronobacter sakazakii microbes from the reported cases.”Abbot Laboratories
The statement continues to respond to the initial findings made in the FDA report.
“We’re taking this very seriously and are working closely with the FDA to implement corrective actions. Abbott is committed to upholding the highest standards for manufacturing of all nutrition products. We have already begun implementing corrective actions and enhancements at the facility, leveraging new technology and strengthening our processes, to give parents and customers renewed confidence in the quality of manufacturing at our Sturgis plant when we restart operations there.”Abbot Laboratories
Consumer advocates say they expect people to take legal action against the formula manufacturer.
“There will be improvements that companies can make and we never may get a full picture of what really happened, but hopefully the families will get some form of justice that helps them to move on,” Sorscher said.
The company has created a website where you can check to see if your formula was recalled and submit for a refund.