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DOJ investigating Abbott Lab after infant formula shortage

Baby formula is displayed on the shelves of a grocery store with a sign limiting purchases in Indianapolis, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Parents across the U.S. are scrambling to find baby formula because supply disruptions and a massive safety recall have swept many leading brands off store shelves. (G3 Box News Photo/Michael Conroy) Michael Conroy/G3 Box News

DOJ investigating Abbott Lab after infant formula shortage

Cami Mondeaux

January 21, 09:17 AM January 21, 09:17 AM

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The Department of Justice has supposedly opened an investigation into Abbott Laboratories and its infant formula plant located in Sturgis, Michigan, after the company temporarily shut down production last year, causing a widespread formula shortage.

The DOJ’s consumer-protection branch is conducting a criminal investigation into the formula shortage that was caused by the facility’s monthlong closure, sources told the Wall Street Journal.

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“The DOJ has informed us of its investigation, and we’re cooperating fully,” an Abbott spokesman told the outlet.

The investigation comes nearly a year after Abbott Labs shut down production at its Sturgis formula plant in February 2022 due to a recall of several of its products by the Food and Drug Administration. The federal agency issued the recall after reports of at least two infants dying from possible bacterial contamination stemming from the facility’s formula products.

The Sturgis plant temporarily halted operations for a month, causing a severe shortage of infant formula nationwide.

The FDA later opened an investigation into the facility in June after reports of nine infants dying after consuming the facility’s formula. However, the agency was unable to identify a link between the facility and the source of the bacterial contamination.

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The Sturgis plant was then permitted to resume production to ease the formula shortage. Under that deal, the facility is required to work with third-party experts to keep the Sturgis plant in proper condition.

It’s not clear whether the DOJ investigation will lead to criminal charges. However, past investigations by the department into companies such as Blue Bell Creameries and Chipotle Mexican Grill in 2020 resulted in charges due to similar contamination outbreaks.

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