The CEO of one of the Big Three baby formula manufacturers in America has apologized for the critical shortage of the product.
Abbott Nutrition CEO Robert Ford blamed the shortage on a shutdown of its Michigan plant in February and a voluntary recall after four babies became sick with bacterial infections after consuming company products.
An investigation has since found no link between the plant and the illnesses, Ford said.
“We’re sorry to every family we’ve let down since our voluntary recall exacerbated our nation’s baby formula shortage,” Ford wrote in a column in The Washington Post on Saturday.
“We believe our voluntary recall was the right thing to do. We will not take risks when it comes to the health of children. The data collected during the investigation, genetic sequencing, retained product samples and available products from the four complaints did not find any connection between our products and the four reported illnesses in children,” he added.
“However, the FDA’s investigation did discover a bacteria in our plant that we will not tolerate. I have high expectations of this company, and we fell short of them,” Ford wrote.
Republicans have tried to blame the shortage on the Biden administration. President Joe Biden is currently utilizing the Defense Production Act to aid formula companies with needed supplies and flying in formula from other countries. Some 78,000 pounds of specialty infant formula for more than half a million baby bottles arrived Sunday in Indianapolis from Europe. It was the first of several flights expected from overseas.
Ford called serious problems caused by the shortage for some babies “tragic and heartbreaking, and it is consuming my thoughts and those of my colleagues.” He added: “Our highest priority is getting babies safe, quality formula they need as fast as possible.”
Ford said his company is working to step up manufacturing and prioritize formula, and to locate other sources of formula, particularly for the most critically needed for hospitalized babies.
The company is also establishing a $5 million fund that will be independently administered to “help these families with medical and living expenses as they weather this storm,” Ford wrote.
The closed plant should be open by the first week in June, he noted.
“Finally, we are making significant investments to ensure this never happens again,” he vowed.
Check out Ford’s full statement here.