Abbott faces U.S. criminal probe over baby formula, Wall Street Journal reports

Drone images of Abbott facility in Sturgis, Michigan12

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Jan 20 (Reuters) – Abbott Laboratories' (ABT.N) Michigan plant, which was at the center of the U.S. baby formula shortage last year, faces a criminal investigation by the Justice Department, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Panicked parents emptied baby formula aisles at supermarkets last year as a recall of formulas by Abbott due to complaints of bacterial infections exacerbated a shortage that began due to pandemic-induced supply chain issues.

The White House intervened to address the shortage.

Attorneys with the Justice Department's consumer-protection branch are conducting the criminal investigation, the WSJ report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

"DOJ has informed us of its investigation and we're cooperating fully," an Abbott spokesman told Reuters, without commenting further on the nature of the probe. The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In February 2022, Abbott, the biggest U.S. supplier of baby formula, recalled Similac and other infant formula products produced at the Michigan facility after reports of bacterial infections in babies who had consumed products made there.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration found "shocking" results during an inspection such as cracks in vital equipment, a lack of adequate hand-washing and evidence of previous bacterial contamination. The regulator and the company later reached an agreement that allowed the plant to reopen.

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