WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. regulators have historically inspected baby formula plants at least once a year, but they did not inspect any of the three biggest manufacturers in 2020.
That's according to federal records reviewed by The Associated Press.
The FDA has consistently inspected infant formula facilities annually.
But in early 2020, the FDA pulled most of its safety inspectors from the field because of the pandemic.
So it skipped thousands of routine plant inspections.
The gap in baby formula plant inspections is getting new scrutiny from Congress and government watchdogs.
That's because one Michigan factory had to be closed for contamination, turning a supply shortage into a full-blown crisis that sent parents scrambling to find formula.
Abbott Nutrition's Michigan plant was shut down in February after two infants died and two others were treated for a rare bacterial infection.
Last month, the FDA allowed Abbott to release formulas made at the Michigan facility to those needing urgent, life-sustaining supplies of particular specialty and metabolic formulas on a case-by-case basis.
To help ease the shortage, the Biden administration has imported a limited supply of formula from overseas.