WASHINGTON — The D.C. Council has unanimously passed a bill banning prince gouging on baby formula price gouging during an ongoing shortage nationwide.
The "Infant Formula Consumer Protection Act," introduced by Councilmember Brianne K Nadeau, now goes to Mayor Muriel Bowser's desk for her signature. It would be in effect for 90 days. The Council will hold a second vote on a temporary measure that would be in effect for 225 days at its next legislative meeting.
“No family should have to worry about whether they can feed their children. Councilmember Nadeau’s crucial legislation will help ensure families across the District can get the formula they need for their babies at a reasonable price,” said Attorney General Karl Racine in a press release. “The Office of the Attorney General has stood up to businesses who took advantage of District residents during the pandemic, and with this legislation, we will do so again.”
The exact legal definition of price gouging varies from state to state. The general idea is that when a merchant sells a good for a higher price, when demand is high, typically during an emergency.
Recent formula shortages, exacerbated by multiple recalls, have taken a toll on families across the country, with many parents spending hours a day looking for formula. The formula that’s left in stores is substantially more expensive than it was a few months ago. And when formula products are in stock online, they are often marked up by 200% or 300% or more. Products that are priced normally are backed up several weeks, and even people who pay for special delivery services are finding formula out of stock online.
In response, on May 12, 2022, President Biden called on state attorneys general to “crack down on any price gouging or unfair market practices related to sales of infant formula.”
“Infant formula should never be diluted. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the can to prepare formula. Additionally, parents and caregivers should not make or feed homemade infant formula to infants,” DC Health officials said.
If you believe that a merchant has engaged in a prohibited trade practice, including impermissible price gouging, please contact the Office of the Attorney General at (202) 442-9828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.