Abbott and Reckitt won’t send free Similac and Enfamil formula
People cannot get six free boxes of formula by calling Similac or Enfamil customer service, as social media posts claim.
Some social media users are sharing purported tips for buying formula during the current national shortage.
Now, some people are claiming there’s a way for parents to get their state government to send them free boxes of baby formula if they call two customer service phone numbers.
“Due to the shortage of infant formula, if you call Enfamil or Similac, they’ll let the state know you can’t find any and the state will ship a 6-pack of 12-ounce cans to your address for free!” a tweet reads.
Can people get boxes of Similac and Enfamil formula for free if they call customer service?
No, people cannot get boxes of Similac and Enfamil formula for free if they call customer service.
WHAT WE FOUND
Social media posts list a customer service phone number 1-800-BABY123 for Enfamil and phone number 1-800-515-7677 for Similac.
VERIFY called both phone numbers and confirmed they are legitimate, but the automated messages make no mention of parents receiving free powdered milk cans from their state or otherwise.
A spokesperson for Abbott Nutrition, which makes Similac formula, also confirmed that the social media posts are inaccurate.
Enfamil and Reckitt Benckiser, the formula’s maker, did not respond to VERIFY’s requests for comment. But an automated message on Enfamil’s customer service line says the company is “unable to provide product samples or discounts at this time.” There is also no information on Enfamil’s website about free milk powder boxes.
Public special supplementary nutrition agencies for women, infants, and children (WIC) provide formula to parents, but this program is not intended for the general public. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which administers the WIC program, told VERIFY in an email that the agency is “not aware of any nationwide program that sends free formulas to families.”
Abbott works with USDA and WIC agencies to offer discounts on competing products when Similac is not available.
The company will continue to pay these rebates to state WIC agencies through August 31. That means WIC program participants can still get a free formula, whether it’s Similac or a formula from another manufacturer, Abbott spokeswoman Vicky Asardo said.
The infant formula shortage stems in part from product recalls. Abbott recalled some of its products in February 2022, including Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powder formulas made at the company’s plant in Sturgis, Michigan. The company is working with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on steps to resume production at the Michigan plant, an agreement subject to FDA and court approval.
Enfamil formulas are not affected by any recalls.
A similar claim about free infant formula circulated at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
“Contrary to rumors on some online social networks, we are not giving out free boxes of formula. Instead, we are focused on ensuring equitable availability for every baby,” Enfamil wrote. in a tweet on March 20, 2020.
There are also newer false claims about infant formula. A post that has been circulating widely on Facebook and Twitter advised parents who can’t find their baby’s formula to simply transfer their Amazon accounts from the US to Canada. VERIFY found that Amazon would not ship formula from Canada to the United States; some third-party sellers who sell independently on Amazon can do this, but the cost of products and shipping are high, and experts warn of security issues with buying formulas internationally.
Here’s what parents should do if their trusted formula brand is out of stock.
First, call your ob-gyn or pediatrician to see if they have formula samples in the office or ask if they can suggest a formula that may be more readily available and is nutritionally similar to the typical formula of their baby.
Generic formula brands from a grocery store or drug store as an alternative to your baby’s normal brand are “just as effective and safe to use,” pediatrician Ilan Shapiro, MD, told VERIFY.
Shapiro also suggested breastmilk banks, where other parents donate their breastmilk, as an option if the baby’s brand of formula isn’t available. The Human Milk Banking Association of America has a map and list of 31 member milk banks across the country online.