US- Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, has started shipping infant formula products to the US from Europe to leverage the shortfall caused by the recall of infant formula from one of the nation’s main manufacturers, Abbott Laboratories.
In February, Abbott voluntarily closed a Michigan facility amid concern over salmonella and cronobacter sakazakii infections in infants, creating a shortage.
The gaps on the shelves have been made worse by worried parents stocking up on supplies fearing the persistence of the situation will take long before being contained.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US regulator, has announced that it has increased flexibilities regarding the importation of certain infant-formula products.
This is expected to further increase the availability of infant formula across the country while protecting the health of infants.
The flexibilities include cutting red tape to make it easier for manufacturers to push through plans to maximize capacity and also offering a ‘streamlined import entry review process’ for products coming from foreign facilities with favorable inspection records.
Switzerland-based Nestlé has been quick to take advantage of the FDA’s move shipping Gerber and Alfamino formula products into the country.
“We have significantly increased the amount of our infant formula available to consumers by ramping up production and accelerating general product availability to retailers and online, as well as in hospitals for those most vulnerable,” Nestle noted.
Additionally, Nestle says it is running its formula factories at capacity and has prioritized its Gerber Good Start Extensive HA and Alfamino products to help meet the demand in the US.
Meanwhile, another infant-formula manufacturer, Reckitt Benckiser, has said it is increasing the production of US baby formula by about 30% to help to counter the shortage.
The firm, which makes its US formula in three facilities in Michigan, Indiana, and Minnesota, said it has granted plants “unlimited overtime” to put in extra shifts in order to achieve its plans.
Furthermore, Abbott has struck an agreement with the FDA to take “corrective action” at its Sturgis infant-formula plant. It could reopen in two weeks once the FDA confirms the initial requirements for start-up have been met.
However, Abbott reiterated it may take six to eight weeks for products from the Sturgis factory to arrive on retailers’ shelves, prolonging a shortage of infant formula in the US.
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