The baby formula shortage facing New York City parents is bad enough without unscrupulous retailers who do have formula in stock squeezing buyers for every penny they can.
On Sunday, Mayor Eric Adams decided to do something about it by declaring a state of emergency related to the formula shortage — empowering the city government to take action combating price gougers across the Five Boroughs.
“The nationwide infant formula shortage has caused unimaginable pain and anxiety for families across New York — and we must act with urgency,” said Adams. “This emergency executive order will help us to crack down on any retailer looking to capitalize on this crisis by jacking up prices on this essential good. Our message to struggling mothers and families is simple: Our city will do everything in its power to assist you during this challenging period.”
The order gives the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection the authority to combat price gouging for formula in New York City. It’s similar to an order that then-Mayor Bill de Blasio signed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 combating price gouging for goods like masks and disinfectant.
“As the national baby formula shortage is playing out locally, we are using the tools available to us to protect consumers and working families,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “The actions we are taking with this emergency declaration and executive order sends a clear message to any unscrupulous actors that may try to take advantage of this situation: not in New York City.”
In the meantime, Health Commissioner Dr. Ashin Vasan said the city’s working “to ensure a steady supply of formula for all New Yorkers.” The news comes on the heels of the Biden administration “Operation Fly Formula,” in which the U.S. will begin importing formula from abroad, provided the formula meets all U.S. health and safety standards.
On Sunday, the Associated Press reported that 78,000 pounds of Nestlé formula had arrived in Indianapolis from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. It’s the first of a number of formula shipments expected to arrive in the U.S. this week and help ease the crisis.
Currently, the city estimates that 43% of all retailers in the tri-state area are out of formula.
Any New Yorker who has been overcharged for formula, meanwhile, can file a complaint with the DCWP online at nyc.gov/dcwp or by calling 311 and saying “overcharge” when prompted.