U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) Thursday introduced the Freedom to Import Infant Formula Act to permanently remove tariffs on baby formula and prohibit U.S. Customs and Border Protection from seizing or enforcing restrictions on importation of formula from certain foreign countries. This bill aims to alleviate current baby formula shortages across the United States, and permanently cut arbitrary regulations set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Mothers all across the country are faced with empty shelves where infant formula once was. They are resorting to all options to feed their hungry babies, from making formula themselves to diluting and rationing the little they have left—which can have dangerous outcomes for their babies,” said Dr. Paul. “While the Biden Administration and government bureaucrats stand idly by – yet again – to watch a crisis run out of control, my bill offers a commonsense solution that will deregulate the baby formula industry, lower costs for families and increase supply at stores across the United States.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) caused this nationwide formula shortage when it shut down a facility in Michigan for months after reports of bacterial infections in four infants. Yet on May 16, 2022, Reuters reported, “the FDA and the CDC have not disclosed any information that connects the illnesses and the plant.”
Baby formula is one of the most strictly regulated food products in the United States. While it is not technically subject to FDA approval, formula has to meet very specific requirements about ingredients, labeling, and production. Also, any formula imported to the U.S. must come from an FDA-registered manufacturer.
Even before the current shortage, American mothers were choosing to pay much higher prices for brands from overseas, which, unlike most FDA-regulated companies, can include goat’s milk or milk from pasture-raised cows.
The White House said in a May 16, 2022, statement that “trading partners in Ireland and the Netherlands are key sources of imports” for baby formula. Yet U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) routinely seizes formula from Europe that doesn’t meet FDA’s highly specific standards. For example, in a single operation in 2019, CBP seized $162,000 worth of a very popular brand from Germany because it contained what the FDA considers “mislabeled nutrients.”
To address this government debacle, Dr. Paul’s Freedom to Import Infant Formula Act, will:
- Permanently remove tariffs on baby formula
- Permanently prohibit U.S. Customs and Border Protection from seizing or enforcing restrictions on importation of formula from certain foreign countries provided the formula meets the legal requirements for sale in that country
- Deem formula imported under these provisions to be in compliance with Section 412 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which contains FDA’s rules for baby formula manufacturing practices, nutrient requirements, etc.
You can read the Freedom to Import Infant Formula Act HERE.