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Group calls on Justice Dept. to take action

Consumer Brands Association urged Attorney General William Barr to protect Americans from price gouging of consumer packaged goods as sellers take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter Monday, the lobbying group’s executive vice president of public affairs, Bryan Zumwalt, requests that the Department of Justice collaborate with federal, state and industry partners to prevent price gouging for consumers. As USA TODAY has reported, prices are experiencing hikes on high-demand items, such as hand sanitizers, tissues, face masks and other products.

A person squirting some hand sanitizer onto their hand from a bottle.

“Absent federal engagement, Consumer Brands fears that price gouging for consumer products – which has been on the rise in recent weeks – could have the severe adverse impact of preventing consumers from obtaining the preventative consumer products they need to protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19,” the letter reads.

The group, which represents brands such as Coca Cola, Clorox and Colgate-Palmolive, predicts that a continued price hike could discourage Americans to pay excessive prices for these products and lead to a decrease in necessary preventative actions. 

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