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Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

Former WIC Food Package FAQs

Last Modified: 11/19/2013

The following materials represent information about the WIC food packages prior to the 10/01/09 implementation of new regulations. Click here for information about the new food packages.

Frequently Asked WIC Food Package Questions

Infant Formula Questions

1. Is low-iron infant formula WIC-eligible?

Low-iron formula is WIC-eligible but is reserved for infants who have serious medical conditions.

Iron is important for the rapid growth and development of infants during their first year of life. Breast milk naturally contains iron and infant formula is fortified with iron to protect infants against the development of iron-deficiency anemia (low blood iron). Iron-deficiency anemia can permanently hurt infants’ physical and mental development.

Due to this concern the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the leading authority on infant nutrition, recommends that all infants receive either breast milk or iron-fortified formula for the first year of life. Many studies have shown that problems, such as constipation, diarrhea, vomiting and colic, are no more common among infants receiving iron-fortified formulas than those receiving low-iron formulas.

Based on these findings and following AAP advice, Federal WIC regulations require that in most cases iron-fortified formula be issued to WIC infants that are not breastfed. WIC State agencies may allow low-iron formula on an individual participant basis with medical documentation.

2. Are WIC participants able to choose the brand of infant formula to feed their infants?

WIC State agencies are responsible for identifying the types and brands of infant formulas that are authorized for use in their WIC Programs. The Federal regulations that govern the WIC Program outline the minimum requirements for WIC-eligible infant formula. WIC State agencies are required to have a competitively bid, sole-source rebate contract with a manufacturer of infant formulas. Under such an agreement, most healthy WIC infants are provided either a milk-based or soy-based iron-fortified infant formula produced by the manufacturer awarded the contract. In turn, WIC State agencies receive a rebate per can of infant formula issued to a WIC infant. Infants who have special dietary needs are provided an appropriate alternative formula, in accordance with State WIC policies and Federal regulations. WIC rebate contracts and policies vary by State, therefore the types and brands of infant formula will vary by State.

3. If a WIC participant has a special dietary need, what does WIC require to receive an exempt infant formula or medical food?

Medical documentation is required for the issuance of exempt infant formulas and medical foods. Medical documentation means a determination by a licensed health care professional authorized to write medical prescriptions under State law that the participant has a medical condition that dictates the use of these formulas because the use of conventional foods is precluded or restricted.

4. Where can I find more information about infant formula and/or report a problem or illness caused by an infant formula or find out about recalls?

Infant formulas and exempt infant formulas are regulated through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN).  For more information about infant formulas or to report a problem go to the FDA/CFSAN website at http://www.fda.gov/food/foodborneillnesscontaminants/peopleatrisk/ucm108079.htm.  This website includes:

  • Information about FDA’s regulation of commercial infant formulas,
  • Commonly asked questions about infant formulas,
  • Links to other relevant resources, and
  • How to report problems.

5. Which infant formulas, exempt infant formulas and medical foods are WIC-eligible?

Link to WIC Formula Database on WIC Works Resource System.