FDA investigating 10th infant who died after consuming Abbott Labs formula

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Wednesday it is investigating a report of another child who died after consuming infant formula made by Abbott Labs.

Olivia Godden feeds her infant son Jaiden formula on Friday, May 13, 2022, at their home in San Antonio [AP Photo/Eric Gay]

The FDA said the baby died in January and a consumer complaint was filed in February, but the agency didn’t learn of the complaint until June 10. This new death brings to ten the number of infants who have consumed pediatric nutrition products manufactured by Abbott. Labs before they get sick and die.

At the end of a lengthy press release titled “FDA Provides Update on Efforts to Increase Supply and Availability of Safe and Nutritious Infant Formula,” the agency said it had received the complaint two weeks ago and that it had opened an investigation “given that the complaint referred to the fact that the infant had consumed an Abbott product.

The press release also states, “To date, the FDA has reviewed and investigated a total of 129 complaints associated with Abbott Nutrition formula products. Of these, 119 complaints were reported after Abbott voluntarily recalled the product on February 17.

The FDA says that of the nine deaths previously reported, “only two were associated with the investigation of the Abbott Nutrition Sturgis plant” and that no “definitive link” between the infant deaths and the Sturgis facility has been found. been established.

The closing of the Sturgis, Michigan plant in February was a belated response by the FDA and Abbott Labs to a whistleblower complaint about unsanitary conditions at the facility and a number increasing reports of illness and death of infants who consumed the establishment’s products.

Meanwhile, the closure of the largest powdered baby food factory in the United States, which supplied 40% of the market, accelerated the formula shortage that had been building since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. of 2020.

The Wall Street Journalal reported, “A spokesperson for Abbott said at this time that there is no evidence to suggest a causal relationship between Abbott’s formulas and this newly reported case.” Abbott’s representative said the top U.S. infant formula producer had received “limited product and clinical information to assess the case” and that the company would “investigate further if additional information becomes available.” .

It’s the same belligerent posture that Abbott Labs has taken throughout the formula shortage and exposure to standing water and bacterial contamination at the Sturgis plant. The FDA was forced to close the Sturgis plant because the agency had, in the words of FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, “no confidence in the facility’s quality program”.

Although the FDA has discovered the presence of Cronobacter sakazakii– a bacterium known to cause fatal blood infections (sepsis) and swelling of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) in infants – at the Sturgis facility, Abbott Labs has maintained throughout that its products are not not responsible for infant deaths.

The company’s ability to avoid liability for childhood illnesses and deaths related to its products was significantly enhanced when the FDA and the US Department of Justice signed a consent decree on May 16 with Abbott Labs. In exchange for the company’s commitment to reopen the Sturgis plant, the company can go on to claim that the bacteria found by the FDA at the plant never entered its baby formula and had nothing to do with it. with infant illness and death.

Despite the ongoing Abbott Labs and FDA cover-up of bacterial contamination in infant formula, not everyone in the world agrees with claims that there is nothing to worry about. On June 19, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued a food recall for certain Abbott brand Similac powdered formula products “due to possible contamination with Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella”.

The CFIA warning says, “Food contaminated with Cronobacter sakazakii may not look or smell spoiled, but can still make you sick. Although Cronobacter sakazakii is not commonly linked to human disease, in rare cases it can cause serious or fatal infections.

The growing number of infants dying from eating Abbott Labs formula and the shortage of baby food on store shelves across the country are manifestations of the crisis and collapse of the capitalist system. The ruling establishment, preoccupied with profits and the accumulation of wealth, cares less about the health and well-being of millions of infants and children in the United States.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration was so preoccupied with the proxy war against Russia in Ukraine and other crises that it was not even aware that an infant formula shortage crisis was escalating from dramatically following the closure of the Sturgis plant.

According to a CNN report on Wednesday, the White House Biden did not convene a meeting of infant formula industry representatives until June 1, more than three months after the Abbott Labs factory closed. The CNN report reads, “They told the President more than once that as soon as Abbott’s recalls were announced in February, they knew they had a serious problem on their hands.”

Biden responded by saying, “They did, but I didn’t. I became aware of this problem sometime in – after April – early April, how intense it was.

Government and corporate indifference to families with children was further demonstrated on June 15, when the company announced that severe thunderstorms had flooded the Sturgis plant and forced the plant to close just 11 days later. its reopening and the resumption of production. .

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced it would provide logistical support for the equivalent of 16 million 8-ounce bottles of infant formula to be imported into the United States from a Nestlé factory in Jalisco, Mexico. The US Department of Health and Human Services is supporting the journey of trucks carrying 1 million pounds of Gerber Good Start Gentle infant formula to US retailers.

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