How the government has created a child formula deficit

Reprinted from Foundation for Economic Education

Many are aware that the United States is facing a shortage of infant formula, which has become quite serious. What started as a result of allegations of “stock out” messages on Twitter about Amazon purchases has turned into a national panic.

CBS News reports that about 40 percent of the best-selling baby formula products were out of stock by the end of April, according to Datasembly’s analysis to retailers across the country.

“This is a staggering number that you won’t see for other departments,” Ben Reich, CEO of Datasembly, told the News Network.

The story eventually gained enough traction to attract the attention of the White House.

On Monday, Press Secretary Jane Sackie said the government was doing its best to address the deficit, noting that manufacturers said they were producing at full capacity after a product was withdrawn by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Ensuring availability is also a priority for the FDA and they are working around the clock to address any potential deficiencies,” Saki said.

Psaki is not wrong that the withdrawal of the product has exacerbated the shortage of child formula.

As Eric Bohem mentions Because, Part of the deficit has arisen due to an outbreak of a suspected bacterium at an Abbott plant in Michigan, which recalls the powder formulas of three major brands. Things got worse when the plant was later shut down for FDA inspection.

Yet, one might be reasonably skeptical of the idea that a single contamination could overturn the entire US infant formula market. And for good reason.

A closer look at U.S. trade and regulatory policies reveals that the government itself is primarily responsible for the lack of child resources.

Rarely does it make sense, but baby formula is one of the most regulated food products in America. I’m not saying that, but New York Times.

As Christina Szalinski reported in March 2021, “Baby formula is one of the most strictly regulated food products in the United States. Determines ৷, and is labeled. “

Despite the existence of these rules – probably because of them – many American parents buy the “approved” European formula, although, as Sajalinsky notes, it is technically illegal.

“There are large Facebook groups dedicated to European sources, where parents share detailed notes on spreadsheets and elements and how these sources compare to their US counterparts,” he notes. “Some caregivers have chosen to choose them because European brands offer specific formula alternatives (such as goat’s milk or cow’s milk raised on pasture), which are rare or non-existent in the FDA-regulated form in the United States. Others look for European brands because of the notion that the formulas are of high quality and the rules of European formulas are strict. “

In this black (ish) market, it appears that Americans are willing to pay big bucks for European sources. Szalinski says that on a website where the EU sells baby formula, you will find German imports that cost about $ 26 for a 400-gram box, which is almost four times the price of the top baby formula proposed by the US Baby Formula. Bar.

At times, these heinous black-market imports resulted in high-profile losses, such as in April 2021, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in Philadelphia violated the FDA’s “Import Safety Rules” and seized 588 cases of Baby Formula (value: $ 30,000).

Some may say that the FDA is only protecting Americans and their children যা no doubt the regulators want you to believe it কিন্তু but it ignores a troubling fact: All right.

The government’s regulatory war on baby formula imports is not the only way that has contributed to the shortage of baby formula. Customs has also played a role. As Cato scholar Scott Linsicom To mark On Twitter, the U.S. government imposes A strict tariff In the child formula (technically a “duty rate quota”) amounting to 18 percent.

There is general agreement among economists that tariffs create market distortions that hurt domestic consumers over time, and there is every reason to believe that these taxes on imports make it harder for Americans to access baby formula during this time of scarcity (and also hit their pocketbooks). .

If the Biden administration were serious about tackling the pediatric deficit, they would forget to “work around the clock” and simply repeal the protectionist policies and regulations that make it more difficult to buy formulas.

Some may argue that this would result in more foreign imports of “suspicious” quality baby formula, but it is wrong to believe that bureaucrats in Washington, DC (or elsewhere) have “appropriate” formulas that some publicly meet. The value

Indeed, as Sajalinsky mentions in it Bar Although both the EU and the US require a bunch of the same vitamins and minerals in infant formula, there are also some significant differences, most notably iron content and DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid).

Since the EU requires high levels of DHA, something that is absolutely not needed in the United States, almost all American child sources fail to meet EU standards.

“Currently, the only U.S. formula that will meet EU requirements for DHA is the new baby formula Bobby,” wrote Szalinski. “As a self-described ‘European-style’ formula, Bobby is marketed as an FDA-regulated alternative to European formulas.”

Bureaucrats in DC will undoubtedly tell you that their formula is correct and healthy, while EU bureaucrats will almost certainly claim that they have the right mix of ingredients.

This raises an important question: Who has the best baby formula for babies, the EU or the United States?

Many may think they know, but economist Thomas Sowell reminds us that this is the wrong question.

“The fundamental question is not which is best, but who decides which is best,” Sowell said.

What Sowell found was that in the game skin consumers ultimately had to decide which product or service was best for them, and the government tried to control that choice, making it harder for consumers to find the best product at the best price.

That is why economist Ludwig von Mieses points out that consumers – not politicians, CEOs or bureaucrats – are the real masters of the economic ship in a free market.

“In the capitalist system of the market economy, the real masters are the consumers,” Mises wrote in his book. Bureaucracy. “They, by refraining from their purchases and purchases, determine who should own the capital and operate the plant. They determine what should be produced and in what quantity and quality. Their attitude leads to gain or loss for the entrepreneur. ”

The lack of baby formula is the latest example that shows that most people in Washington, D.C., need to open up some misses and stop trying to find a “solution” in the market.

John Multimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the managing editor of He is the subject of articles in Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News and the Star Tribune.

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