New York AG warns more than 30 retailers to stop price gouging for baby formula

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ALBANY, N.Y. (WHEC) — In the midst of a nationwide baby formula shortage, New York State Attorney General Letitia James is warning consumers of retailers overcharging for formula.

James issued a statement on Friday that warns more than 30 online and brick-and-mortar retailers to stop charging unreasonably high prices for formula. She said the state’s anti-price gouging laws prohibit merchants from charging excessive amounts for essential goods or services during market disruptions.

In cease-and-desist letters to retailers, James warned of legal consequences if they keep their prices high.

“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 wrote.

The shortage of baby formula started because of supply chain and transportation issues. Then, the nation’s largest baby formula plant, Abbott Nutrition’s Michigan plant, was shut down because of contamination concerns. The Monroe County Department said it’s difficult to find formula in local stores and they’re working to help parents find formula.

Over the last several weeks, News10NBC has spoken with desperate parents who’ve spent hours trying to find the formula they need to feed their babies.

“Last month I went to like seven different stores looking for it and I could barely find it,” said Jenine Barbarita, the mother of a 3-month-old baby boy, “honestly, it kind of almost gets me choked up because it makes me scared.”

Throughout May, consumers statewide have reported price hikes for baby food to the Office of the Attorney General. In Erie County, one consumer reported that a 19.8 ounce can of Enfamil Nutramigen brand formula, which typically sells for $45, was being sold for $60 — a 33% increase. In Brox, a consumer reported that a 32-ounce bottle of Enfamil NeuroPro brand formula, which typically sells for $12, was being sold for $18 — a 50% increase.

If you see a large and sudden increase in baby formula price, you file a complaint on the website for the Office of the Attorney General or call 800-771-7755.

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