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Abbott BabyFormula Business Is Under Investigation By SEC, FTC

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Abbott BabyFormula Business Is Under Investigation By SEC, FTC

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Abbott BabyFormula Business Is Under Investigation By SEC, FTC
Abbott BabyFormula Business Is Under Investigation By SEC, FTC

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission are investigating Abbott Laboratories ABT 0.62% infant formula, the company said.

In December, the SEC Division of Compliance issued a subpoena to Abbott requesting information about its powdered formula business and related public disclosures, the company said in a securities filing Friday.

In addition, Abbott said it received a civil subpoena from the Federal Trade Commission in January seeking information about companies competing for federal baby food contracts as part of the agency's investigation.

An Abbott representative in Abbott Park, Illinois is cooperating with the government's investigation.

SEC and FTC officials could not be reached for comment.

The disclosure follows the launch of a Justice Department criminal investigation into where Abbott's formula is produced, after the factory closed last year, causing a shortage of formula in the United States.

Abbott has recalled a number of dry infant formulas, including Similac, which was manufactured at its plant in Sturgis, Michigan and ceased production at the factory.

The recall follows an FDA review that found cronobacter bacteria at the Abbott plant. The FDA conducted the review after receiving reports of infants consuming formula developing chronobacterial infections.

The FDA said it cannot conclude that contamination at the Sturgis plant caused the bacterial infections in the four infants who consumed Abbott formula beginning in September 2021, but cannot rule it out. Abbott said the mix-up in Sturgis was unlikely to be the source of the infection.

Abbott said it upgraded the plant to address FDA contamination concerns, and production resumed in June.

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The FTC investigation concerns contracts with the federal Women, Infants and Children program, which provides free food to low-income families.

The FTC has previously said it is looking into whether the government's WIC corporate contract bidding has affected the number of formula suppliers and overall manufacturing capacity.

In May, the Federal Trade Commission said its officials had launched an investigation into the lack of infant formula.

Email Peter Loftus at Peter.Loftus@wsj.com

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