New York Attorney General Letitia James on Friday warned more than 30 retailers in New York, including six on Long Island, to stop price gouging on baby formula amid a nationwide shortage.
“It’s unconscionable that some retailers are taking advantage of the national baby formula shortage while parents are struggling to find food for their children,” James said in a news release. “Amid this crisis, families already have enough to worry about and should not have to worry about being price gouged.”
New York State law prohibits charging “grossly excessive” prices for essential goods and services during abnormal market disruptions. Businesses found guilty of price gouging can face penalties of $25,000 or more, under the statute.
James encouraged New Yorkers to report price gouging of baby formula to her office.
The cease and desist letters sent Friday went to online and brick and mortar retailers across the state. The attorney general’s office did not identify the sellers on Long Island to which it sent warnings.
The shortage was sparked after Abbott Nutrition, the manufacturer of baby formulas with the name brands Similac, Alimentum and EleCare, initiated a voluntary recall of some of its products in February after the death of an infant due to a bacterial infection after consuming Similac.
The attorney general’s office said that examples of reported price gouging included an 19.8 ounce can of Enfamil Nutramigen formula selling for $59.99, a $15 increase over its typical price, in Erie County.
The price gouging law applies to wholesalers as well as retailers, James’ office said, and encouraged retailers to report excessive prices charged by distributors.
Complaints can be made by calling 800-771-7755.