"The nationwide infant formula shortage has caused unimaginable pain and anxiety for families across New York — and we must act with urgency," Mayor Adams wrote in his executive order
Eric Adams
Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty

New York City Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency on Sunday in response to the nationwide short supply of baby formula.

The emergency executive order "will empower the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to prevent price gouging for formula."

"The nationwide infant formula shortage has caused unimaginable pain and anxiety for families across New York — and we must act with urgency," Mayor Adams said in a statement. "This emergency executive order will help us to crack down on any retailer looking to capitalize on this crisis by jacking up prices on this essential good. Our message to struggling mothers and families is simple: Our city will do everything in its power to assist you during this challenging period."

"The nationwide infant formula shortage is hurting parents and families across our city at a time when we're all still reeling from the crisis of the past two years," added Deputy Mayor for Health & Human Services Anne Williams-Isom in the statement. "This executive order will ensure all of our agencies can use every tool in their toolkit to get infant formula to those who need it and make sure our youngest New Yorkers stay."

Grocery store shelves where baby formula is typically stocked are locked and nearly empty in Washington, DC, on May 11, 2022. - It's a parent's worst nightmare. The United States is in the grip of a severe shortage of baby formula -- with a mass product recall aggravating pandemic supply chain woes -- sending families on sometimes desperate hunts for the vital supplies. And it's been going on for months, according to Sara Khan, the mother of three children ages 10 years, seven years and six months.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"As the national baby formula shortage is playing out locally, we are using the tools available to us to protect consumers and working families," continued Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. "The actions we are taking with this emergency declaration and executive order sends a clear message to any unscrupulous actors that may try to take advantage of this situation: not in New York City."

The nationwide baby formula shortage is worsening each day, with new data by Datasembly showing the national out-of-stock rate hit a high of 43 percent for the first week of May. While the shortages of some formulas first emerged late last year amid the pandemic, they've worsened in recent months due to challenges with the Abbott Nutrition supply chain, product recalls by some other American manufacturers, and inflation.

Now that the order has been signed, any New Yorkers who are overcharged for formula by more than 10 percent can file a complaint directly with DCWP either online at nyc.gov/dcwp or by calling 311 and saying "Overcharge."

baby formula shortage
Credit: Getty

"We encourage any New Yorker who sees significant price increases in infant formula to report it to 311," said DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga in the statement.

"We know that shortages in critical goods often affect our city's most vulnerable, especially those New Yorkers and their families who rely on city services," said DSS Commissioner Gary Jenkins. "DSS will work collaboratively with partners on the city, state, and federal level to meet the need for infant formula and fill any supply gaps, especially for those with the greatest level of need."

MOFP Executive Director Kate MacKenzie ended the statement saying, "While the shortage is playing out on a national scale, we know that the pain is being felt acutely at the local level — and we will do everything in its power to provide meaningful relief for New York City families who are struggling to find affordable, accessible formula."