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WASHINGTON: Amid a US shortage of baby formula, officials announced Monday a previously closed manufacturer would re-open and encouraged foreign companies to apply to import their products — although it will take weeks to see more stock back on store shelves.

A “consent decree” agreement between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and major formula manufacturer Abbott outlines steps needed to restart production at the company’s plant in Michigan, which was shut down due to a recall, Abbott said in a statement.

“Once the FDA confirms the initial requirements for start-up have been met, Abbott could restart the site within two weeks,” the statement said. However, the company cautioned that “from the time Abbott restarts the site, it will take six to eight weeks before product is available on shelves.” Abbott, which produces the popular Similac brand used by millions of American families, announced a voluntary recall on February 17 after the death of two babies.

In a separate move, the FDA also said Monday it plans to accept applications from international baby formula manufacturers “who don’t normally distribute their infant formula products in the US.”

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