The Italian anti-trust body has concluded a second investigation into powdered baby-milk prices in five years and has imposed a fine of almost 10 million on seven international companies who provide baby milk to the Italian market,accusing them of having formed a price-fixing cartel. Five years ago a fine of six billion lire (almost 3 million) on six companies for the same offence. Since then, despite several attempts by to persuade the milk producers to lower their prices, the manufactureres have consistently maintained prices in Italy which are higher higher than in any other European Union countries. A kilo of one of the baby milk powders which has come under attack costs 9.22 in London, 16.60 in Berlin and 32.00 in Milan.
At the same time, magistrates in Turin have opened an investigation into the use of baby milk powders in Italian maternity hospitals. Some manufactureres have been offering baby milk to the hospitals at reduced rates, in the hopes that a new mother will continue to use the same milk powder when she takes her child home. Now the magistrates wish to know why one price is being charged for powdered milk to the health service while another, much higher price, is being charged to the public at the pharmacy and in the supermarket.