Abbott is under investigation by SEC and FTC for infant formula trafficking

Abbott said they are cooperating with government investigations.

Abbott is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission in connection with its infant formula business, the company announced in a new SEC filing.

Abbott said in a filing Friday that they received a subpoena from the SEC’s Department of Enforcement in December 2022 requesting “information regarding its powder infant formula business and related public disclosures.”

In January, Abbott received “a civil inquiry request” from the FTC to seek information related to the agency’s investigation of companies bidding for infant formula contracts with the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) via USDA .

Abbott’s revelation of these investigations comes after the Justice Department already launched a criminal investigation into Abbott’s baby food manufacturing practices, a source familiar with the case told ABC News, after contamination concerns led to a mass recall and shutdown last year from their factory in Sturgis, Michigan. year.

An Abbott spokesperson told ABC News that they are “cooperating with government investigations.”

An FTC spokesperson declined to comment to ABC News on Saturday.

ABC News has also reached out to the SEC for comment and has yet to hear back.

The discovery of the Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria at Abbott’s Sturgis factory led to a massive voluntary recall of the formula last February, after four babies who had used Abbott’s formula contracted a Cronobacter infection. Two of the babies subsequently died, although Abbott claims there is no conclusive evidence that the formula caused the illness in the babies, as none of the Cronobacter strains found in their plant matched the two samples whose genetic sequence was determined from the sick babies.

In the end, it was the combined findings of Cronobacter at Abbott’s plant — along with operational deficiencies identified by federal investigators and consumer complaints — that led to the plant’s closure.

Following an inspection of Abbott’s Sturgis facility last year, FDA chief Dr. Robert Califf described the “shocking” and “extremely unsanitary conditions” the investigators found.

“Standing water; cracks in key equipment that allow bacterial contamination to persist, especially in the presence of moisture; roof leaks; previous citation for inadequate hand washing,” Califf testified before Congress in May. “Many signs of a disappointing lack of attention to the culture of safety in this product that is so vital to the lives of our dearest people.”

Abbott’s recall bounced back into U.S. grocery stores and families’ pantries, exacerbating an already widening supply problem and forcing families to spend months searching for what their babies needed.

During the height of the severe shortfall last May, the FTC had already launched an investigation into the formula crisis, investigating potential dishonest and illegal enterprises exploiting parents’ desperation during the crisis.

The news of these latest investigations into Abbott also follows the recent analysis by health experts suing major formula companies, including Abbott, for “exploitative” marketing and aggressive lobbying.






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