SALEM, OREGON—With increased shortages of baby formula due to recalls, labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has sent a letter to Gov. Kate Brown asking her to immediately declare an “abnormal disruption of the market” in Oregon pursuant to ORS 401.965.
Oregon law authorizes the governor to declare an abnormal disruption of the market in response to “any emergency that prevents ready availability of essential consumer goods or services.” This declaration will allow the Oregon Attorney General to take action against any business, or online vendor, who upsells the price of baby formula — an essential consumer product — by more than 15 percent.
The Oregon Department of Justice is aware of reports of baby formula being sold online for prices far exceeding its retail value. Rosenblum urges Oregonians to be on alert for potential price gouging of baby formula and to report any significant price increases to her office. In addition, she encourages parents having difficulty finding formula to speak with their child’s health provider before attempting to dilute formula or make their own, either of which, according to health authorities, can be potentially dangerous to a child. Rosenblum also encourages anyone with extra breastmilk to consider donating it to their local milk bank.
“If Oregonians see significant price increases for baby formula, I encourage them to report it to my office immediately," said Rosenblum. “Anyone who tries to take advantage of this shortage by gouging parents desperate to feed their babies is on notice.”
Due to the nationwide shortage, the Oregon Department of Justice advises consumers to buy only as much formula as they need and not to unnecessarily stock up; panic buying may intensify the shortage and could encourage sellers to engage in illegal price gouging. It is not price gouging for retailers to limit the amount of formula they sell to individual consumers.
When reporting price gouging to Oregon Department of Justice, consumers should:
Report suspected violations to the attorney general’s price gouging hotline at (503) 378-8442 or online at www.oregonconsumer.gov and attach pictures, receipt or other information.
More information on Oregon’s price gouging statute can be found here: https://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer-protection/sales-scams-fraud/price-gouging/