FDA and Abbott reach agreement to reopen baby formula plant

A bottle of Similac baby formula.
(Image credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

The Food and Drug Administration reached an agreement with Abbott Laboratories on Monday to restart production of baby formula at the company's plant in Sturgis, Michigan.

This is Abbott's largest domestic factory, and it closed in February after bacterial infections were reported in four babies who consumed formula made at the plant; two of the babies died. As part of the agreement — which still needs to be reviewed by a federal judge — outside experts will work with Abbott to upgrade standards and reduce bacterial contamination at the plant, The Associated Press reports.

The FDA will let Abbott know once it can reopen the factory, and the company said it will take about eight to ten weeks before formula starts hitting shelves.

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There are four companies that make about 90 percent of U.S. formula, and to alleviate the national shortage, the FDA will soon announce steps being taken to get more foreign imports into the country. Baby formulas produced in Canada and Europe are very similar to those made in the U.S., pediatricians say, and FDA Commissioner Robert Califf told ABC News it's important to ensure the formula comes with instructions people in the U.S. can understand.

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