On Saturday (January 21), Abbott Laboratories spokesman Scott Stoffel confirmed that the Department of Justice had launched a criminal investigation into the company’s plant in Michigan, which shut down last year.
Stoffel said that the company was informed of the DOJ’s investigation and that the company was cooperating.
Stoffel’s comments come after The Wall Street Journal reported on the probe.
Abbott, one of the nation’s largest baby formula producers, recalled its baby formula in February 2022, exacerbating an ongoing baby formula shortage.
The recall followed the death of two infants, who died from a rare infection after they had consumed the company’s baby formula produced at its Sturgis, Michigan plant.
Amid the plant’s closure, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed they discovered evidence of unsanitary conditions at the plant, including several strains of bacteria that could prove deadly to infants.
The recall heightened a supply chain concern that had begun because of an increase in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the plant managed to reopen in July 2022, five months after its closure.
Despite the closure and damning FDA report, Abbott insists none of its products, or the bacteria found in its facilities, had been directly linked to the infants’ deaths.
Yet, the company’s assertions contradict reporting that a whistle-blower warned Abbott and the FDA about issues at Abbott’s Sturgis plant a year before the company recalled its baby formula.
According to reports, the complaint explained that the baby formula was being distributed without proof of safety and that there was equipment involved in its creation that required fixing.