Thursday, May 12, 2022

Fact Check: Why No Baby Formula?


There's a lot of news about a shortage of baby formula these days, but very little information as to why.  I think I know why, and I also know why you are not hearing about it.

So, how could I, a guy who has no infants, is not in the baby formula business, and knows nothing about the industry, have an inside track on this vexing shortage?  It's not magic; I've seen this movie before.

You see, in 2014 I wrote a piece tying together several seemingly unrelated odd events at notable companies.  There was a SWAT style raid at a guitar factory, a large OTC painkiller plant was raided and shuttered, a fully built airplane factory was not allowed to open, and the U.S. government blocked the world's largest car manufacturer from selling certain models.  

I traced all those cases to labor unions, or rather the lack thereof.

It looked to me like Barack Obama was weaponizing the U.S. government to advance his pro-union agenda.  These companies were standing in his way, if not literally, symbolically.

This is why moms can't feed their babies.  It has nothing to do with supply chains, covid, Ukraine, etc.  It's all about punishing a company that prefers to work directly with its employees rather than through an adversarial third party.

About 3 months ago, the U.S. FDA shuttered the largest baby formula plant in the country, an Abbott Labs plant in Sturgis, MI.  The reasons for the plant closure was that there was a whistleblower who alleged sloppy hygiene at the plant, and subsequently there were a pair of fatalities from alleged contamination tied to the plant. 

Scary stuff indeed.  But further investigation revealed no such contaminants in samples of formula at the plant.  And none were found in any of the formula recalled from store shelves.  The FDA did however find samples of the rare bacteria somewhere at the site.  (My understanding is that exotic bacteria can be found in pretty much any bathroom, including yours.)  

The plant remains closed as of today.     

All of this seemed familiar to me.  In fact, not just familiar, but exactly like what had happened with Johnson & Johnson's Tylenol plants.

Again, I'll direct you to the piece I wrote in 2014 which has all the details, but here's a brief summary:

  • 1980s - 7 people die from cyanide tainted Tylenol.  
  • All products are recalled, the plant is shut, and J&J has a devastating PR nightmare on its hands.
  • None of the recalled product is contaminated, and no cyanide is ever found at the plant.
  • The case remains unsolved, but the contamination was traced to the Tylenol distribution network around Chicage, IL.
  • At the time The Teamsters ran all distribution for Tylenol in Chicago, while J&J was known to prefer non-union employees. 
  • After the deaths, J&J took all distribution in-house and away from the Teamsters.
  • Fast Fwd to 2011 - The U.S. govt, under Barack Obama, raids 3 J&J/McNeil/Tylenol plants, shuts one down, and forces several recalls claiming faulty products, bad hygiene, bacteria, odors, etc.
  • No one has been sickened, injured, or killed by any of these allegedly faulty products.  
  • J&J loses billions, undergoes a management shakeup,  and the nation goes through a protracted shortage of brand name Tylenol.  
This is an almost mirror image of the events that have led to the baby formula shortage today.  

Please read the full story.  This all has the unmistakable odor of an Obama/Democrat/Union operation.