060608_MilkReport.jpg86% of New York City store owners who sell milk are breaking the law by overcharging for their product, according to the “Milk Money” report released yesterday by the City Council. The 17-year-old law, intended to stop price gouging on what many believe to be a vital source of nutrients, regulates the price of milk with a monthly cost calibration. This month, store owners cannot legally charge more than $3.93 for a gallon, $2.01 for a half-gallon, and $1.04 for a quart.

Many retailers seem unaware that the law even exists – a manager at Food Market on 2nd Ave. told a Post reporter that his $3.29 half-gallon of milk was perfectly reasonable: “This is a free country. I'm allowed to charge whatever I want.” According to WCBS, the Department of Agriculture and Markets sends a monthly letter with the new milk prices to some, but not all, stores.

Council speaker Christine Quinn (pictured at podium) blames the Agriculture Department for lax enforcement, saying the agency “needs to re-evaluate how they're doing oversight. They need to change it because it's clearly not working.” And Queens Councilman Eric Gioia chimed in by asserting that “milk provides vital vitamins and nutrients, especially for growing kids, and is a staple of a healthy diet. ” For another perspective, check out Not Milk.

Photo courtesy Shirley Limongi.