Abbott, whose products meet the nutritional needs of infants, young children, active adults, the elderly and those with special nutritional needs will have almost all its products certified as halal by IFANCA, by 2009. It all began with the South East Asian market requesting halal certification. That was followed, six years ago, with Saudi Arabia making halal certification compulsory for all its edible imports. In response, “we researched a whole bunch of companies to get halal-certified,” says Donald Sgontz, Manager of Halal and Kosher programs. “IFANCA is well-respected worldwide and is more knowledgeable than other halal certification companies. We felt they were best suited to the task. Overall, I’ve been very satisfied and the process of making sure our formulas are halal has been very smooth.” All Abbott’s overseas plants that cater to countries with large Muslim populations are certified as halal by IFANCA. Further, Abbott’s products sold in Muslim nations do carry the halal certification logo on their packaging.

The wakeup call to have plants in the USA halal-certified as well, came after news on an American blog, stating that Abbott’s Similac® wasn’t halal-certified, was picked up in Malaysia and spread there like wild fire. This was true of Similac made in plants in the USA, for USA distribution, but was not the case with Similac made overseas for distribution in Malaysia. Similac, a leading baby formula in the Malaysian market, was and is halal-certified and even carries the halal certification logo.

Abbott learned quickly from the experience. To stave off similar scenarios and losses in the future, the company decided to have all its plants (including those in the U.S.), and as many products as possible, certified as halal for markets worldwide. “Not only did it make good business sense, it was also the right thing to do,” says Sgontz.

“There are 8 million Muslims in the USA and we want to provide nutritional products to as many people as possible. It’s the socially responsible thing to do because now our products are not off-limits to Muslims in the USA who need them.” Abbott, however, will have a few products that can’t be certified as halal since their formulas cannot be changed. Further, in the USA, halal-certified products will not carry a halal logo right away. For now, consumers here will have to turn to the IFANCA website,, to determine which products are halal-certified.


Early Beginnings & Growth

Abbott Nutrition’s history dates back to 1903 with the founding of the Moores and Ross Milk Company in Columbus, Ohio, which was later acquired by Abbott. By 1924, the company undertook development of a then unknown and unheard of commodity – a product prepared from milk for use specifically as an infant formula. Initially it was a powder to be reconstituted at home with boiled water. By 1951, the company introduced Similac Concentrated Liquid, a ready-to-mix product with water in a one-to-one ratio which became very popular. In 1959, Similac With Iron was introduced, and it was the first iron-fortified infant formula in the United States. The company continues to develop other specialty baby formulas and new products as further scientific facts come to light. Today, it’s not just babies that Abbott caters to but young children as well, with products such as Pedialyte, PediaSure and PediaSure with Fiber, the latter two being marketed as a “source of complete, balanced nutrition” for children 1 to 13 years of age.


A Commitment to Ethics

“Abbott is committed to the nutritional health and wellbeing of babies and advocates breastfeeding as the first choice for infants,” says Sgontz. A guide titled, “Starting to Breastfeed: Tips for New Moms” offers advice and resources to an increasing number of new moms who opt to breastfeed their babies. Besides the bonding breastfeeding encourages between mother and baby, breast milk is the best food for babies. Breastfeeding increases immunity and protects babies from acute illness and infection. It stimulates weight loss for moms and lowers the breastfeeding mother’s risk of breast cancer. In general, the longer one breastfeeds, the greater the benefit to both mother and baby.

Science today backs the wisdom of the Quran when it comes to acknowledging the unique value of breast milk and breastfeeding. While there is no disputing that mother’s milk is best, Abbott’s infant formulas are an excellent option when breast milk is not available, not chosen, is discontinued, or is supplemented. For Abbott, complying with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries where they do business includes following the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of breast milk substitutes. Halal consumers in the USA and worldwide can rest assured that their nutritional choices are IFANCA halal-certified as well.


Adult Nutritional Needs

Besides its trusted pediatric products that offer balanced nutrition for infants and children, Abbott contributed to the idea of healthy living and performance nutritionals for active adults. It created the market more than three decades ago with Ensure® which helps people meet their nutritional needs. Ensure products are developed for adults with specific nutritional requirements, such as those needing to gain or maintain a healthy weight or those who cannot eat enough food to meet their nutritional needs. Today, the healthy living family of nutrition brands also includes Glucerna®, ZonePerfect®, EAS®/ Myoplex® and AdvantEDGE®.

Abbott also meets the need for medical nutritionals for patients with special dietary needs. Its researchers were the first to develop a diabetes-specific nutrition formula with the launch of Glucerna shakes and snack bars in 1998. Glucerna products have unique blends of slowly digestible carbohydrates that have been clinically shown to help people manage diabetes. They have developed a growing choice of important, differentiated products, each designed to help people with diabetes better manage abnormal glucose metabolism. Glucerna products are for use under medical supervision as part of a diabetes meal plan. Abbott also meets the nutritional needs of the elderly. Malnutrition is a growing, global health problem. In Europe and the Middle East, 10 to 78 percent of hospital patients, particularly the elderly, suffer from the condition. The effects of malnutrition include disease complications, weakened immune function, increased morbidity and mortality, decreased quality of life and increased cost of health care.