Gov. Gavin Newsom signs order to address infant formula shortage

photo of baby formula
Nick Quinlan/Senior Staff
Newsom's executive order aims to prevent price gouging as the nationwide formula shortage continues to affect Californian families.

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Amid the national shortage of infant formula, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Tuesday that prevents sellers from price gouging in an effort to improve access for parents and caretakers.

According to the press release, the order prohibits sellers from increasing the price of infant formula by 10 percent more than the price they charged on Feb. 17 until Aug. 31. It also provides additional tools to the California Department of Justice and Attorney General’s Office, district attorneys and other local law enforcement to take action against price gougers.

“California continues to take urgent action to support families feeling the impacts of the nationwide formula shortage,” Newsom said in the press release.  “We’re connecting families in need with helpful resources and working to improve access for all parents and caregivers to keep California families safe and healthy.”

The executive order notes the national shortage of infant formula is a result of supply chain management problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order also noted manufacturers like Abbott Nutrition — formerly one of the biggest suppliers of infant formula — had to shut down their facility, making it difficult for retailers and pharmacies to obtain infant formula.

“A shortage in infant formula poses a direct threat to the health and safety of infants in the State, as infant formula is a critical and often essential source of infant nutrition and sustenance,” the executive order read.

The executive order stated that sellers whose infant formula prices are more than 10 percent greater than the highest price charged by that seller on Feb. 17 would be charged with a misdemeanor; however, there are exceptions.

If the seller can prove that the high cost of infant formula is attributable to additional costs imposed by the supplier or that the formula they were selling on Feb. 17 was sold at a reduced price and the increased price is “not more than 10 percent greater than the price at which the seller ordinarily sold the infant formula,” then they would not be in violation of this order, according to the executive order.

“The State is prepared to take strong action against price gouging, profiteering, and other unscrupulous business practices that threaten the health and safety of infants in California,” the executive order read.

Besides price-gouging suppliers, the press release said the Newsom administration has also expanded the different brands of infant formula for families who are part of the California Department of Public Health’s Women, Infants and Children program.

Campus second year Tatiana Sanchez said it is necessary to make infant formula accessible and affordable, especially for young and low-income parents.

“I have seen people on Instagram asking for donations because baby formula is so expensive,” Sanchez said. “I could imagine it is really expensive, especially for young parents and low-income parents, so prices should be affordable.”

Contact Dhoha Bareche at [email protected].