Mayor Eric Adams issued a state of emergency Sunday in hopes of curbing price gouging amid the baby formula shortage.
“The nationwide infant formula shortage has caused unimaginable pain and anxiety for families across New York — and we must act with urgency,” said Adams in a statement.
“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.”
Emergency Executive Order 98 allows the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to prevent price hikes for certain household products under 5-42 of Title 6 of the Rules of the City of New York.
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio enacted the measure on March 15, 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when stores began to increase prices for hand sanitizer and masks.
The rule defines an “excessive price increase” as 10% or more above the usual price of a product.
“The nationwide infant formula shortage is hurting parents and families across our city at a time when we’re all still reeling from the crisis of [the] past two years,” Anne Williams-Isom, deputy mayor for Health and Human Services, said in the news release sent Sunday afternoon.
“This executive order will ensure all of our agencies can use every tool in their toolkit to get infant formula to those who need it and make sure our youngest New Yorkers stay.”
Shelves have remained bare at stores nationwide — a crisis caused by a February recall by supplier Abbott Nutrition of name-brand formulas produced in Michigan and a subsequent closure of its manufacturing facility.
During the first week of May, 43% of the most popular infant formulas were out of stock, 43% of baby formula was out of stock at retailers, according to Datasembly, a company that tracks retail pricing and sales.
On Wednesday, President Biden agreed to invoke the Defense Production Act to ensure that US baby formula producers can obtain the material they need and launched a new US government airlift of formula from abroad. The first international shipment of baby formula arrived in Indiana on Sunday.
The Food and Drug Administration last week permitted Abbott to reopen its Sturgis, Mich., factory, but the shortage of supplies is not expected to immediately be resolved.