The CEO of baby milk manufacturer Abbott on Saturday May 21 apologized to American families affected by the shortage of this vital product for infants, which was made worse by the closure of a group factory in the United States. “We’re sorry to all the families we’ve abandoned since our voluntary recall exacerbated the formula shortage in our country,” group boss Robert Ford told The Washington Post.

The United States has been experiencing a shortage of baby milk for several months, caused by supply and labor problems linked to Covid-19, then aggravated by the closure, in February, of an Abbott factory in the Michigan, after a product recall suspected of causing the deaths of two infants. “It’s tragic and heartbreaking,” Ford said.

He also noted the group’s establishment of a “$5 million fund” for the families of children hospitalized after consuming the milk.

Converted production lines

Regarding the shortage, Abbott says it has “taken serious steps,” such as converting adult product lines at the Columbus, Ohio, plant “to prioritize the production” of baby milk. The group also imports milk from its factory in Ireland. And after an agreement with the American justice, which must still be validated by a judge, the Michigan factory should reopen within two weeks.

Thus, “by the end of June, we will provide more formula to Americans than in January before the recall”, assures the CEO of Abbott. “Finally, we are making significant investments so that this will never happen again,” he promised.

Joe Biden signed a law on Saturday that allows certain regulatory requirements to be circumvented “so that people can more easily access the baby formula they need”, he said in a tweet.

He announced on Wednesday the establishment of an airlift and the use of a law dating from the Cold War to try to solve this shortage, which has become a political headache for his administration. A White House official announced on Friday a first flight, carrying 132 pallets of Nestlé brand milk, this weekend between Germany and Indianapolis (Indiana).