Mayor Eric Adams has declared a state of emergency amid a nationwide infant formula shortage that he warned poses “an imminent threat to the health and safety of infants in New York City.”
The emergency declaration, signed on Sunday, aims to empower the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to crack down on sellers that are price gouging the hard-to-find infant formula. The agency said it has received several complaints of excessive prices in recent weeks.
Families have been scrambling to find infant formula after a voluntary recall from the manufacturer Abbott Laboratories, which controls roughly half the market, in February. Throughout the tri-state area, an estimated 43% of retailers are out of baby formula, according to the Adams administration.
“The nationwide infant formula shortage has caused unimaginable pain and anxiety for families across New York — and we must act with urgency,” Adams said in a statement.
The new rules will be enforced as part of an emergency law enacted to stop retailers from jacking up mask and hand sanitizer prices early in the pandemic. It defines excessive price increase as “10% above the price at which consumers in New York City could obtain such goods or services 30 to 60 days prior to the issuance of this rule.”
Vilda Vera Mayuga, the commissioner of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, urged any New Yorkers who encounter infant price increases to report them to 311.
“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,” Adams added. “Our message to struggling mothers and families is simple: Our city will do everything in its power to assist you during this challenging period.”