President Joe Biden’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) faces a new lawsuit by an ethics watchdog for allegedly ignoring a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request over the baby formula shortage.
The Functional Government Initiative (FGI) filed suit against the agency for “wrongfully withholding” key information on the nationwide crisis by ignoring an August FOIA request.
— Lisa Makela (@lisamakela2) October 31, 2022
The lawsuit spelled out that FGI believed that “officials and staff and FTC discussed and participated in making and implementing decisions” concerning the inquiry into the formula shortage.
It further stated that the American public cannot evaluate the FTC’s investigation without proper information. The filing asserted that releasing the details is in the “public interest.”
The FTC told the watchdog group in September that it was unable to comply with the 20-day response required by law.
It was in May when Brian Deese, the National Economic Council’s director, revealed that the White House had information about a potential baby formula shortage months before it became a fact.
A whistleblower and former Abbott employee forwarded a 34-page complaint to the FDA in October 2021 with details of alleged problems at the Michigan facility.
No action was taken for four months on the complaint, even though it brought up multiple safety and sanitary issues at the baby formula plant.
It was only in February of this year that the agency took action, leading to panic buying and the ensuing months-long shortage.
A September report by Biden’s Food and Drug Administration, however, placed the blame for the national crisis squarely on problems at the Michigan facility. Two infants died from bacterial infections that were linked at the time to the plant.
And the issue is far from over. The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse noted last week that 20% of U.S. families still have difficulty obtaining a week’s worth of baby formula.
The shortage as recently as July had 30% of the product out of stock on store shelves. The latest figures from September still show nearly 18% of powdered formula as out of stock. Anything above 10%, according to marketing research firm IRI, is problematic.