Attorney General James Issues Warnings to More Than 30 Retailers to Stop Overcharging for Baby Formula

Consumer Reports Show Online Retailers and Stores
Overcharging for Baby Formula amid National Shortage

AG James Encourages Consumers to Continue to
Report Baby Formula Price Gouging to Her Office

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today issued warnings to more than 30 online and brick-and-mortar retailers across the state to stop overcharging for baby formula after consumers reported unreasonably high prices. Due to recalls and supply chain disruptions, there has been a nationwide shortage of baby formula. New York’s price gouging statute prohibits merchants from charging excessive prices for essential goods or services during abnormal market disruptions. In cease-and-desist letters to more than 30 online retailers and stores across the state, Attorney General James ordered these businesses to immediately stop overcharging for baby formula and warned of the legal consequences of price gouging.

“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,” said Attorney General James. “Amid this crisis, families already have enough to worry about and should not have to worry about being price gouged. We are warning all retailers that New York will not tolerate price gouging of baby formula, and I encourage anyone who sees this to continue reporting it to my office.”

Earlier this month, Attorney General James issued a consumer alert warning retailers against price gouging of baby formula and encouraging consumers to report it to her office. Since then, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has received several consumer complaints of baby formula price gouging at local retailers across the state, primarily in New York City. For example, one consumer reported that a 19.8 ounce can of Enfamil Nutramigen formula, which typically sells for $44.99, was being sold by an Erie County retailer for $59.99. Another consumer reported that a 32-ounce ready-to-feed bottle of Enfamil NeuroPro was being sold by a Bronx retailer for $17.99 when it previously sold for $11.99.

In her letters, Attorney General James makes clear that wholesalers and distributors are also prohibited from price gouging and encourages retailers to notify her office if they are being overcharged. New York’s price gouging statute is expansive and covers actors throughout the supply chain. The law also prohibits price gouging not just of consumers but also of small businesses and state and local governments.

The OAG 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. Due to the nationwide shortage, OAG advises consumers to buy only as much formula as they need and not to unnecessarily stock up. 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 type and size 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.