Adams signs executive order to prevent price gouging on baby formula

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Baby formula shortage have left empty shelves at a Queens Target due to product recall and supply chain issues.

Adams signs executive order to prevent price gouging on baby formula

The mayor’s action comes in response to the national infant formula shortage.
May 24, 2022

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has declared a state of emergency and signed an executive order, Emergency Executive Order 98 (EEO 98), that will prevent price gouging for baby formula. This will allow the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to crackdown on any businesses hoping to overcharge for formula. The EEO 98 comes in response to the nationwide shortage of infant formula, caused by the closure of Abbott Nutrition, one of the largest formula manufacturers in the country.

“The nationwide infant formula shortage has caused unimaginable pain and anxiety for families across New York – and we must act with urgency,” said Mayor 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.”

Adams' decision came after the Women's Caucus of the City Council wrote him a letter calling for action. “We are thrilled with the quick response from Mayor Eric Adams to the letter we authored, co-signed by 26 of our colleagues in the Women's Caucus last week, regarding the infant formula crisis. This Executive Order will ensure that baby formula will not be illegally overpriced for new mothers  and will protect the health and safety of babies throughout our city," Council Member Julie Menin, chair of the small business commitee and Council Member Lynn Schulman, chair of the Health Committee, said in a joint statement. 

Abbott closed down in February due to contamination found at its manufacturing facility by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Federal officials were investigating bacteria found in four babies who were fed formula, two of which have died. Once production was halted, traces of the cronobacter bacteria were found on surfaces in the plant. Plant records show this bacteria had been detected eight times in its products and the facility since 2019.

Currently, over 40% of infant food retailers are out of stock on formula, with 43% of food retailers in the tristate area being out of stock as well

President Joe Biden has since then implemented the Defense Production Act, which requires suppliers of baby food formula ingredients to prioritize baby formula manufacturers before other companies. The administration has also ordered the Health and Human Services Department and Department of Agriculture to use Defense Department aircraft to pick up infant formula from overseas that meet U.S. health and safety standards. 

The multi-agency effort in New York City hopes to ensure that there is a regular supply of baby formula for families amidst the shortage. 

“As New York’s consumer protection agency, we are committed to ensuring retailers do not take advantage of this nationwide formula shortage for their own financial gain,” said DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga. “Under this new executive order, DCWP will enforce against any instances of price gouging, and we encourage any New Yorker who sees significant price increases in infant formula to report it to 311.”

New Yorkers who are overcharged for formula can now file a complaint with DCWP online or by calling 311.

Angelique Molina-Mangaroo
previously founded and was executive director of The Wealthy Youth Project, a financial literacy organization interested in addressing issues faced by women and girls of color. She also was a reporter for the Hunts Point Express in the Bronx, served as a Young Women’s Advisory Council Member on the New York City Council, and has worked with several nonprofit organizations, among them Planned Parenthood of New York City and the Legal Aid Society.