Oakland – California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a consumer warning today following the governor’s executive order establishing protections against price gouging for families struggling to access safe and affordable baby formula. In recent months, families nationwide have faced persistent shortages of baby formula due to supply chain disruptions. Attorney General Bonta warns Californians that the governor’s executive order will outlaw price-gouging baby formula. Californians with information about potential violations of the law should report it to oag.ca.gov/report.
“As some California families wonder how they’re going to feed their babies, the last thing they need to worry about is bad actors looking to make a quick buck by raising the price of formula.” Attorney General Bonta said. “At the California Department of Justice, we are monitoring this situation closely, and we will not hesitate to take action if we see a violation of the law. If you believe you have been a victim of price gouging, I encourage you to immediately file a complaint with my office at oag.ca.gov/report or contact local law enforcement. I insist.
The governor’s order prohibits the sale of infant formula at a price higher than 10 percent of the price of the formula normally charged by the seller on February 17, 2022. Violators of the order are subject to criminal prosecution that may result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months. Violators are subject to civil enforcement actions, including civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation, injunctive relief and mandatory restitution. The Attorney General and local district attorneys can enforce the order.
Resources for Parents
- Parents should not use reconstituted formula. Return the recalled formula to the store or call the manufacturer of the recalled formula at 800-986-8540 for a replacement.
- Parents struggling to find baby formula should visit Healthychildren.org.
- More information and resources can also be found in the California Department of Public Health’s Consumer Alert and the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Fact Sheet on Baby Formula Shortages.
- Families using benefits through the California Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program can find more information on the California WIC Infant Formula Availability webpage.
- Before purchasing baby formula from an unfamiliar source, research the company’s reputation through the Better Business Bureau (BBB) at www.bbb.org. For more information on potential scams related to baby formula shortages, visit the BBB website here.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to protecting California families struggling with rising prices by enforcing the state’s consumer protection and antitrust laws. In May, as families faced a nationwide shortage of baby formula, Attorney General Bonta issued a consumer alert to alert Californians to illegal activity such as the sale of expired or recalled baby formula. Earlier this year, the Attorney General settled allegations that he engaged in price gouging of certain types of eggs during the Covid pandemic with a smart and final settlement. Attorney General Bonta has sent warning letters to the CEOs of refineries operating in California against illegal market manipulation and other violations of state antitrust laws. The attorney general is involved in an ongoing lawsuit against multinational gas trading firms SK Energy America and Vitol for manipulating California gas prices and overcharging customers at the pump.