U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, wrote to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) demanding urgent action to address the nationwide infant formula shortage.
“Families are feeling the impact,” the members wrote in letters to FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf and FTC Commissioner Lina Khan. “Raising an infant is a stressful enough experience without wondering whether or not you will be able to find—or afford—the food your child desperately needs to grow, thrive, and stay healthy.”
A February FDA recall from a major producer’s plant and continued global supply chain disruptions have restricted access and increased the cost of infant formula for parents and caregivers. Families have reported empty shelves at major retailers and some have taken to diluting formula to make it last longer, which doctors warn can have extremely dangerous health repercussions.
In response, Blumenthal and DeLauro called on the FDAto provide answers on efforts to eliminate shortages and increase formula production: “While we must address the issues the led to this failure, at this point in the crisis, it is just as critical that we urgently focus on getting safe and affordable infant formula to the families that need it.”
Families in states across the country have also reported price gouging on online marketplaces; on eBay, a 3-pack of Similac that normally sells for $130 is being sold for $238, and other retailers are marking up a can of formula from $30 to $80. Other families have reported being scammed out of hundreds of dollars after purchasing formula on Facebook Marketplace, and instances of individuals claiming to be representatives of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) coming to doorsteps asking for recalled formula in exchange for a “refund.”
“These circumstances have created the perfect conditions for predators to take advantage of desperate caregivers through scams, outright fraud, and other schemes to exploit high prices,” Blumenthal and DeLauro wrote to Chair Khan. “We call on the FTC to investigate and take action against any scams and fraud preying on shortages of formula that have made it harder for parents to care for their infants,” and to, “work with the FDA and state Attorneys General to ensure that the public has information about any fraud or price gouging schemes related to formulas.”
Last week, Blumenthal joined U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) in sending a letter to Mardi Mountford, President of the Infant Nutrition Council of America, calling on infant formula manufacturers to make every effort possible to get parents and families the formula they need to feed their kids. Blumenthal also joined U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in urging the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to address extremely high levels of corporate concentration in the infant formula marketplace following the recent news of infant formula shortages nationwide.
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