This rule proposes to amend regulations for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) by adding three requirements mandated by the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 concerning retail vendors authorized by WIC state agencies to provide supplemental food to WIC participants in exchange for WIC food instruments.
This rulemaking would require WIC state agencies to notify WIC-authorized retail vendors of an initial violation in writing, for violations requiring a pattern of occurrences in order to impose a sanction, before documenting a subsequent violation, unless notification would compromise an investigation. In addition, state agencies would be required to maintain a list of state-licensed wholesalers, distributors, and retailers, and infant formula manufacturers registered with the Food and Drug Administration, and would require WIC-authorized retail vendors to purchase infant formula only from sources on the list.
Further, state agencies would be required to prohibit the authorization of or payments to WIC-authorized vendors that derive more than 50 percent of their annual food sales revenue from WIC food instruments (“above-50-percent vendors”) and which provide incentive items or other free merchandise, except food or merchandise of nominal value, to program participants or customers unless the vendor provides the state agency with proof that the vendor obtained the incentive items or merchandise at no cost.
The intent of these provisions is to, respectively, enhance due process for vendors; prevent defective infant formula from being consumed by infant WIC participants; and ensure that the WIC Program does not pay the cost of incentive items provided by above-50-percent vendors in the form of high food prices.
Finally, this rule also proposes to adjust the vendor civil money penalty (CMP) levels to reflect inflation.