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FTC asks for public comments in its inquiry into the infant formula shortage

Baby Being Fed From a BottleThe Federal Trade Commission staff is launching an inquiry into the shortage for infant formula that is caused hardship for American families.

The inquiry is looking for information about any deceptive, fraudulent, or other business practices that are taking advantage of families during the shortage. It also wants to examine factors that have led to concentration in the infant formula market and supply chain problems for the formula.

“We have been monitoring and will continue to monitor the ongoing infant formula shortage, which is causing enormous anxiety, fear, and financial burden for American families,” FTC Chair Lina M. Khan said in a statement. “The FTC is launching a public inquiry to identify the factors that contributed to the shortage or hampered our ability to respond to it. Learning from this experience can help determine how we can minimize the risk of similar shortages in the markets for other life-sustaining products.”

The FTC is asking the public for information on whether the FTC or state or federal agencies may have taken steps that contributed to supply chains problems for infant formula. Comments should be submitted to regulations.gov and received by Friday, June 24. 

The FTC will look at the pattern of mergers and acquisitions in the infant formula market, how it came about, and how that information should be considered in review of future mergers. 

The FTC encourages members of the public with information to submit a comment on the following topics:

  • Cases where families have experienced fraud, deception, or scams when attempting to purchase infant formula or have been forced to purchase formula from online resellers at unreasonably high prices.
  • Families’ experiences purchasing infant formula through the WIC program during the crisis.
  • Retailers’ experiences obtaining brands not ordinarily covered by their state’s WIC programs and their experiences working with distributors and manufacturers during the crisis.
  • Whether small and independent retailers have faced greater difficulties getting limited supplies of infant formula compared to large chains.
  • The impact of mergers and acquisitions on the number of infant formula suppliers, investment for factories, and manufacturing capacity. 
  • The impact of state WIC competitive bidding on the number of infant formula suppliers, investment for factories, and manufacturing capacity. 
  • The impact of FDA regulations on the number of infant formula suppliers, investment for factories, and manufacturing capacity, including capacity located outside the United States.
  • Whether there are other regulatory barriers that have prevented companies located outside the United States from entering the infant formula market.

Khan said her agency will enforce the law against anyone who has defrauded or scammed desperate families. The FTC will also work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers WIC, to analyze the results of the public inquiry. 

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