Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf said Monday that the agency would be likely to release a plan by the end of the day to curtail the nationwide shortage that has parents scrambling to find ways to feed their babies.


The nationwide shortage has worsened gradually since July 2021 but got significantly worse last month, when the out-of-stock rates exceeded 40% by May 8. The shortage of most powdered formulas was driven by the February closure of a major Abbott manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan, as well as supply chain problems worsened by the pandemic.

“We're taking a number of measures, including getting all the manufacturers to step up, getting the Sturgis plant up and going, but also importing or bringing to bear product that was intended for other countries,” Califf said on Good Morning America. “That's well underway now, and, in fact, I expect by the end of the day today, we're likely to have an announcement about that path forward.”

Getting Abbott’s Sturgis plant back up and running is expected to provide a boost in supplies in stores, which have taken to formula purchases of just a few containers per transaction. Abbott announced on Friday that the FDA had closed its investigation of the facility, having cited 483 infractions, including the presence of a toxic bacterium in some of the lots that forced the plant to shut down temporarily. Subject to agency approval, Abbott expects the facility to be fully operational within two weeks, and Califf said on Monday that he was confident in that timeline.

“Very soon, you should hear an announcement about moving forward, and, of course, Abbott is responsible for the timeline, but I’m very comfortable with what they said about two weeks,” Califf said. “That’s entirely within the realm of possibility and, in fact, I think quite likely.”

Still, Abbott also said on Friday that, from the time the company restarts the site, it will take six to eight weeks before the product is available on shelves.


The Biden administration has been criticized by Republicans for its response to the shortage. House Republicans have rallied behind new legislation that would direct the FDA to review the internationally adopted food standards known as the Codex Alimentarius specifically for baby formula. The objective is to ensure that international standards match up with the standards that U.S. regulators have for importing baby formula, the first step toward replenishing the country’s empty stockpile.