News

Santa Clara County makes price gouging on infant formula illegal

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors outlawed price gouging on infant formula on June 7. Photo by Veronica Weber.

In response to the nationwide infant formula shortage, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors adopted an urgency ordinance to stop price gouging at a meeting earlier this month.

The ordinance extends the enforceability of the county's price gouging restrictions through the duration of the emergency. The county initially proclaimed a local emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020, which made price gouging of consumer products prohibited, but only for 180 days after the county first proclaimed the emergency.

The new ordinance will extend anti-price gouging restrictions until 30 days after the emergency has concluded.

"It can be really tough to buy formula these days, and some young children require formula to survive," District 5 Supervisor Joe Simitian said in a June 22 statement. "I know we can't control supply chain issues, but we can send a clear message to price gougers – who are buying up formula to resell it at a higher price ­– that price gouging won’t be allowed."

Price gouging is a criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months. Prior to the board's June 7 decision, there was no enforcement tool to pursue and punish price gouging on infant formula in Santa Clara County, according to the statement.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

"Exacerbating the nationwide supply problem, reports indicate that bad actors are engaging in widespread practices to buy up and then resell infant formula at a steep markup," James R. Williams, County Counsel for Santa Clara County, said in his recommendation for the ordinance. "This bulk purchasing and hoarding of supplies contributes to shortages. Reselling those scarce supplies at predatory prices also exacerbates inequalities in our community, because some families simply can’t afford to buy formula at an inflated price even if they have an infant who desperately needs it."

For resources on how to find infant formula or a local milk bank, visit the State of California's infant formula webpage.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Malea Martin covers the city hall beat in Mountain View. Before joining the Mountain View Voice in 2022, she covered local politics and education for New Times San Luis Obispo, a weekly newspaper on the Central Coast of California. Read more >>

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Your support is vital to us continuing to bring you political news. Become a member today.

Santa Clara County makes price gouging on infant formula illegal

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 1:48 pm

In response to the nationwide infant formula shortage, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors adopted an urgency ordinance to stop price gouging at a meeting earlier this month.

The ordinance extends the enforceability of the county's price gouging restrictions through the duration of the emergency. The county initially proclaimed a local emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020, which made price gouging of consumer products prohibited, but only for 180 days after the county first proclaimed the emergency.

The new ordinance will extend anti-price gouging restrictions until 30 days after the emergency has concluded.

"It can be really tough to buy formula these days, and some young children require formula to survive," District 5 Supervisor Joe Simitian said in a June 22 statement. "I know we can't control supply chain issues, but we can send a clear message to price gougers – who are buying up formula to resell it at a higher price ­– that price gouging won’t be allowed."

Price gouging is a criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months. Prior to the board's June 7 decision, there was no enforcement tool to pursue and punish price gouging on infant formula in Santa Clara County, according to the statement.

"Exacerbating the nationwide supply problem, reports indicate that bad actors are engaging in widespread practices to buy up and then resell infant formula at a steep markup," James R. Williams, County Counsel for Santa Clara County, said in his recommendation for the ordinance. "This bulk purchasing and hoarding of supplies contributes to shortages. Reselling those scarce supplies at predatory prices also exacerbates inequalities in our community, because some families simply can’t afford to buy formula at an inflated price even if they have an infant who desperately needs it."

For resources on how to find infant formula or a local milk bank, visit the State of California's infant formula webpage.

Comments

Dan Waylonis
Registered user
Jackson Park
on Jun 23, 2022 at 3:28 pm
Dan Waylonis, Jackson Park
Registered user
on Jun 23, 2022 at 3:28 pm

SO many bad ideas here. Without market driven prices, you get shortages (remember toilet paper, Clorox wipes, and hand sanitizer being sold out at beginning of pandemic?). Best of all, the infant formula shortage is a completely government driven shortage: FDA shut down "suspected" factory, WIC program limits producers, and Federal tariffs and restrictions prevent EU formula from being imported. If nothing else, this should be a cautionary tale about the "well intentioned" Government programs going wrong.


JAFO
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2022 at 4:35 pm
JAFO, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Jun 23, 2022 at 4:35 pm

Dan,

The shortage occurred due to the supplier failure to do the work properly. And even worse, the rest of the market was trying to exploit the consumers here. The bottom line is that these actions are occurring AFTER the wife was already sent to the hospital with a broken arm by the husband. But that is something you cannot understand.


Randy Guelph
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Jun 23, 2022 at 4:54 pm
Randy Guelph, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Jun 23, 2022 at 4:54 pm

Let's be clear what Dan is leaving out about that "suspected" factory: Web Link

"The Abbott Nutrition plant in Michigan that was shut down in February, sparking a widespread baby formula shortage crisis, had a leaking roof, water pooled on the floor and cracks in key production equipment that allowed bacteria to get in and persist"

"Cronobacter sakazakii, which can be deadly to infants, was found in four babies who had consumed formula from the plant"

"officials described contamination with Cronobacter bacteria in finished baby powdered formula lots as long ago as 2019 and 2020."

Now, we need to ask whether Dan Waylonis knew what he was leaving out, or is just repeating misinformation he received from others.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.