retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Fox Business reports that "the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reportedly investigated seven more child deaths due to the consumption of contaminated baby formula from the Michigan Abbott Nutrition plant than was previously known … the agency investigated reports that as many as nine children had died since March 2021. 

"Previously, the FDA said two children had died and two were sickened after consuming formula that contained the bacterium cronobacter sakazakii … the agency acknowledged Friday that it had received such additional reports, being unable to identify the source of the infection in all cases."

At the same time, the Associated Press reports that "US regulators have historically inspected baby formula plants at least once a year, but they did not inspect any of the three biggest manufacturers in 2020 … When they finally did get inside an Abbott Nutrition formula plant in Michigan after a two-year gap, they found standing water and lax sanitation procedures. But inspectors offered only voluntary suggestions for fixing the problems, and issued no formal warning.

"Inspectors would return five months later after four infants who consumed powdered formula from the plant suffered bacterial infections. They found bacterial contamination inside the factory, leading to a four-month shutdown and turning a festering supply shortage into a full-blown crisis that sent parents scrambling to find formula and forced the U.S. to airlift products from overseas.

"The gap in baby formula plant inspections, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, is getting new scrutiny from Congress and government watchdogs investigating the series of missteps that led to the crisis. A recent bill would require the Food and Drug Administration to inspect infant formula facilities every six months. And the government’s inspector general for health has launched an inquiry into the FDA’s handling of Abbott’s facility, the largest in the U.S."

KC's View:

There are going to be a lot of questions to be answered here, and I suspect that none of the answers will be very satisfying.