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Many baby formula plants weren't inspected because of COVID

Limited baby formula supplies at a CVS in Portsmouth, N.H., in May 2022. NHPR photo, Dan Tuohy
Dan Tuohy
A barren baby formula shelf at a local CVS in New Hampshire last month.

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.

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