Abbott Plant Linked to Contaminated Similac Recall Shut Down Again Due to Flooding

Standing water, leaks and the spread of bacteria contributed to a recent contaminated Similac recall which saw the facility shut down for months.

Only a few weeks after reopening, an Abbott infant formula production facility in Michigan that distributed contaminated Similac, Alimentum and Elecare formula which sickened babies nationwide has been shut down again; this time due to flooding.

Abbott Laboratories issued a statement on June 15, indicating that severe thunderstorms and heavy rains overwhelmed the Sturgis, Michigan storm water system, and caused flooding in the plant.

Formula production had just restarted at the facility two weeks ago, after it was shut down in February 2022, due to problems with Cronobacter sakazakiiis or Salmonella Newport contamination, which resulted in illnesses, infections and deaths of several infants nationwide.

Abbott Laboratories first announced the Similac recall on February 17, after inspections confirmed the presence of bacteria throughout the Michigan facility and identified widespread manufacturing problems.

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Following the recall announcement, FDA investigators found multiple deficiencies and problems found at the Similac manufacturing facility, including leaks in the roof that allowed water to enter and sit stagnant on the floor and on production equipment. This is suspected to have contributed to the outbreak of pathogens that caused infant illnesses and deaths after being fed Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formula products.

According to Abbott’s statement, the facility had only begun production on its EleCare line when these latest flooding problems occurred.

“As a result, Abbott has stopped production of its EleCare specialty formula that was underway to assess damage caused by the storm and clean and re-sanitize the plant,” Abbott’s statement indicates. “We have informed FDA and will conduct comprehensive testing in conjunction with the independent third party to ensure the plant is safe to resume production. This will likely delay production and distribution of new product for a few weeks.”

The flooding comes as the facility is under close scrutiny by the FDA after cutting a deal with the Department of Justice through a recent consent decree, which allowed the plant to reopen after Abbott promised to re-sanitize the plant, address numerous problems which contributed to the food poisoning outbreak, and bring in an independent third party for verification. Such flooding can lead to the growth and spread of bacterial contamination if not dealt with correctly.

It is unclear how Abbott would have handled the flooding before the consent decree, as standing water and leaks were believed to contribute to the baby formula recall, which led to an infant formula shortage which has sent parents, stores and the U.S. government scrambling to meet the nutritional needs of its most vulnerable citizens.

Abbott faces a growing number of Similac recall lawsuits from parents who say their children were sickened after consuming the tainted formula.

Similac & Enfamil Baby Formula Health Risks

In addition to concerns about baby formula shortages and recent Similac manufacturing problems, Abbott is also facing a growing number of NEC lawsuits that are now being pursued by families of premature babies who developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) after being fed the cow’s milk products while still in the NICU.

NEC is a serious health condition that primarily impacts preterm infants, causing intestinal tissues to become inflamed and die. If left untreated, it can cause dangerous perforations in the intestines, which allow bacteria to leak into the abdomen or infiltrate the bloodstream. This can lead to life-threatening infections, narrowing of the intestines, short bowel syndrome, developmental delays and a failure to thrive.

A number of studies published over the past three decades have highlighted the link between NEC and cow’s milk formula like Similac and Enfamil, yet manufacturers have continued to market and promote versions of their products specifically for use by premature infants.

According to allegations raised in hundreds of Similac lawsuits and Enfamil lawsuits brought by families of babies who developed NEC, many of those premature infants may have avoided the condition if the manufacturers hadn’t provided false and misleading information to parents and the medical community, which diminished the importance of breast feeding or using human donor milk.

 

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