Millions of cans of baby formula made in Ireland being shipped to the US

Millions of cans of Irish-made baby formula have been airlifted to the US to deal with crippling shortages in the country.

Supply chain issues compounded by historic levels of inflation and some product recalls meant that US shelves have run out of product.

One of the country’s largest manufacturers, Abbott, which produces the Similac range of infant formulas, operates a major facility in Cootehill, Co Cavan.

In a statement, Abbott said they have now airlifted millions of cans of formula from Cootehill and said they will more than double the amount supplied from the facility this year.

“Our Cootehill team sources ingredients from approximately 1,000 dairy farms in the local area. Following strict quality and safety processes, each batch of infant formula undergoes extensive quality checks before reaching stores,” said Abbott.

The gravity of the situation has meant that US President Joe Biden has held crisis talks with the CEOs of major retailers and manufacturers, including Abbott.

The crisis has its roots in the recall of Abbott products made at a Michigan plant following complaints about bacterial infections in babies who had consumed the products.

In a statement, Abbott said there was no evidence to link its formulas to disease. “Abbott performs microbiological testing on products prior to distribution and no Abbott formulas distributed to consumers have tested positive for Cronobacter sakazakii or Salmonella,” the company said.

Approximately 98% of the infant formula consumed in the US is produced there, yet countries such as Ireland, Mexico, Chile and the Netherlands are being called upon to address the crisis.

Many American parents rely on baby formula. Fewer than half of babies born in the United States were exclusively breastfed for the first three months, according to the 2020 Breastfeeding Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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