Abbott facing criminal investigation over baby food

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The Abbott Laboratories plant in Michigan, which was at the center of the U.S. baby food shortage last year, is facing a criminal investigation by the Justice Department, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Panicked parents cleared supermarket baby food aisles last year when a recall of formulas by Abbott over complaints of bacterial infections exacerbated a shortage that began due to pandemic-induced supply chain problems.

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The White House stepped in to address the shortfall.

Related: Reckitt expects a shortage of baby food in the US until spring

Lawyers from the Department of Justice’s consumer protection division are conducting the criminal investigation, the WSJ report said, citing people familiar with the case.

“DOJ has notified us of its investigation and we are cooperating fully,” an Abbott spokesperson told Reuters, without commenting further on the nature of the investigation. The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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In February 2022, Abbott, the largest U.S. baby food supplier, recalled Similac and other baby food products produced at its Michigan plant following reports of bacterial infections in babies who had consumed products made there.

The US Food and Drug Administration found “shocking” results during an inspection, such as cracks in vital equipment, insufficient hand washing and evidence of previous bacterial contamination. The regulator and the company later reached an agreement allowing the plant to reopen.

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Related: Federal Investigators Review FDA Response to Baby Food Recall

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