F.D.A. and Abbott Reach Agreement on Baby Formula to Try to Ease Shortage

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday reached an agreement with Abbott Laboratories on the steps needed to reopen the company’s shuttered baby formula plant, which could begin to ease the shortage of infant formula that has frightened and exasperated parents nationwide.

The F.D.A. said it expected Abbott to restart production in about two weeks, and was poised to review progress at the plant in Sturgis, Mich. It has been shut down since February after several babies who had consumed formula that had been produced there fell ill and two died.

The agreement stems from a U.S. Department of Justice complaint and consent decree with the company and three of its executives. Those court records say the F.D.A. found a deadly bacteria, called cronobacter, in the plant in February and the company found more tranches of the bacteria later that month.

According to the complaint, the same Sturgis factory had also produced two batches of formula in the summer of 2019 and 2020 on different production equipment that tested positive for the bacteria.