FTC wants consumers to weigh in on the impact of the infant formula crisis

Photo (c) Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography - Getty Images

Between it and the FDA, the agency hopes to find some answers that can prevent this issue from happening again

If you’re a parent and feel like you’ve been impacted by the ongoing shortage of baby formula, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants to hear from you. On Wednesday, the agency announced that it was seeking public comment on the matter in hopes of getting to the bottom of what contributed to the issue.

The FTC's action means that two federal agencies are now investigating the baby formula issue. Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also said it was working to resolve the problem.

What the FTC wants to know

The FTC inquiry seeks specific information from both consumers and businesses about the “nature and prevalence of any deceptive, fraudulent, or otherwise unfair business practices” that were designed to take advantage of families during the shortage.

This probe is also going after those who use online “bots” to automatically purchase and then resell formula at exorbitant prices. Officials also want to pin down scammers who are trying to trick parents into paying for formula that never makes it to their doorstep. 

“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 … and we will continue to police these bad actors,” FTC Chair Lina M. Khan said in a statement.

The agency also wants to hear from families who experienced issues purchasing infant formula through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (“WIC”) throughout the crisis.

Two heads are better than one

Consumers can hope that the two-pronged effort from the FDA and the FTC will be able to make some headway. While the FTC has no say in the safety or manufacturing of baby formula, it can take steps to address any anticompetitive, unfair, or deceptive acts or practices that have contributed to or are worsening the shortage.

The FTC said one thing it can do is take a deep dive into how the infant formula industry operates to identify exactly what factors created that market’s fragility. Officials say a disruption at a single Abbott Nutrition plant was a large factor that contributed to the current supply issues.

Consumers can submit their comments to regulations.gov. They must be received no later than Friday, June 24, 2022, by 11:59 p.m. (EST). 

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