As Supplies Dwindle, Attorney General James Warns Against Price Gouging of Baby Formula

With increased shortages of baby formula due to recalls and supply chain disruptions, New York Attorney General Letitia James today warned retailers that price gouging is illegal. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is aware of reports of baby formula being sold online for prices far exceeding its retail value. Attorney General James urges New Yorkers to be on alert for potential price gouging of baby formula and to report any dramatic price increases to her office. In addition, Attorney General James encourages parents having difficulty finding formula to speak with their child’s doctor before attempting to water down formula or make their own, both of which can be potentially dangerous to a child. Attorney General James asks that anyone with extra unopened, unexpired formula consider donating it to their local food pantry.

“The national baby formula shortage is terrifying for parents concerned about how to feed their children,” said Attorney General James. “The last thing any family needs is to be price gouged on critical nutrition for their little ones, which is why I am putting profiteers seeking to take advantage of this crisis on notice. If New Yorkers see exorbitant price increases for baby formula, I encourage them to report it to my office immediately. Anyone who seeks to take advantage of this crisis is on notice. I also urge any parent who is struggling to find formula to speak with their child’s doctor before altering or using formula other than directed. If New Yorkers have excess unopened, unexpired formula, please consider donating it to your local food pantry to help families in need.”

New York law prohibits merchants from taking unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services that are vital to their health, safety, or welfare for an unconscionably excessive price. Due to the nationwide shortage, OAG advises consumers to buy only as much formula as they need and not to unnecessarily stock up as such panic buying may intensify the shortage and could encourage sellers to engage in illegal price gouging. The OAG also reminds consumers that it is not price gouging for retailers to limit the amount of formula they sell to individual consumers.

When reporting price gouging to OAG, consumers should:

  • Report the specific increased prices, the dates, and places that they saw the increased prices, and the types of formula being sold; and,
  • Provide copies of their sales receipts and photos of the advertised prices, if available.

New Yorkers should report potential concerns about price gouging to OAG by filing a complaint online or call 800-771-7755.

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