OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a consumer alert 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 confronted an ongoing shortage of baby formula resulting from supply chain disruptions. Attorney General Bonta warns Californians that the Governor’s executive order makes price gouging baby formula illegal. Californians who have information about potential violations of the law should report it to oag.ca.gov/report.
“With some California families wondering how they are going to feed their babies, the last thing they should have to worry about is bad actors looking to make a quick buck by hiking up the price of formula,” said Attorney General Bonta. “At the California Department of Justice, we’re monitoring this situation closely, and we will not hesitate to take action if we see violations of the law. If you believe you have been the victim of price gouging, I urge you to immediately file a complaint with my office online at oag.ca.gov/report or contact local law enforcement.”
The Governor's order generally prohibits selling infant formula at a price that exceeds, by more than 10 percent, the price of the formula charged by the seller on February 17, 2022. Violators of the order are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or by imprisonment up to six months. Violators are also 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.
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Attorney General Bonta is committed to protecting California families struggling with rising prices through enforcement of state consumer protection and antitrust laws. In May, with families confronting the nationwide baby formula shortage, Attorney General Bonta issued a consumer alert encouraging Californians to be on the lookout for unlawful activity, such as the sale of expired or recalled baby formula. Earlier this year, the Attorney General secured a settlement with Smart & Final resolving allegations that the grocer engaged in price gouging of certain types of eggs during the COVID pandemic. Attorney General Bonta also sent letters to the CEOs of refineries operating in California warning them against illegal market manipulation and other violations of state antitrust laws. The Attorney General is involved in ongoing litigation against multinational gas trading firms SK Energy Americas and Vitol for allegedly manipulating California’s gas prices and costing consumers more at the pump.