Multinational medical device and health care company Abbott Laboratories is under investigation by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) following the closure of Michigan’s baby formula plant in February 2022. In this episode of the Xtalks Food Podcast, Sydney talks about the investigation, which is centered around Abbott’s unsanitary workplace conditions and fueled one of the worst baby formula shortages in recent history. Health officials found bacteria at the plant that can potentially cause deadly infections in babies. The plant was forced to close, but reopened several months later. Abbott relies on the success of its wide range of consumer and professional products, so while the outcome of the DOJ investigation remains to be seen, it is unlikely that Abbott’s overall earnings will suffer in the long-term. The team wonders who, if any person or agency, is to blame for Abbott’s unsanitary work conditions and whether the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the FDA’s workplace audits.
Also in this episode, Sydney talks about artificial intelligence startup Nala Robotics, which might be able to solve the foodservice’s labor shortage with its robotic dishwashers. The technology shifts the dishwashing responsibilities to Spotless, its robot dishwasher, and the company claims the entire process — from cleaning and drying to stacking and storage — takes just as long (or even less time) than a human dishwasher. Currently, the robot dishwasher has been deployed in several non-commercial kitchens, like hospitals and living centers, and will soon be utilized at a national diner chain. Nala’s business model allows restaurants to lease Spotless on a monthly basis for almost $3,000 a month. The team compares the price of Spotless with the price of hiring a human dishwasher and determines that the robotic dishwasher would be a better option for restaurant operators as long as it functioned properly.
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