A sign warns of supply issues on a shelf holding a small amount of toddler nutritional drink mix at a Target store in Stevensville, Maryland on May 16, 2022 amid a nationwide shortage of baby formula ( AFP / Jim Watson)

Baby formula companies not offering free product by phone

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Posts shared thousands of times on Facebook claim baby nutrition brands Enfamil and Similac are connecting families who call their US customer service lines to free products. This is false; the companies are not offering free formula, as supply remains scarce amid a nationwide shortage.

"Hi moms! Due to the shortage of formula if you call enfamil or similac they will notify the state you can't find any for your child and the state will send you a 6 pack of 12 Oz cans to your address ! For free!! hopefully the state has some to help out ! The shortage has gotten worse but it doesn't hurt to call and ask! I hope this helps," claims a May 16, 2022 Facebook post that lists the customer service phone numbers for both companies. 

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken on May 19, 2022

Similar posts circulated on Facebook here, here, and here

The claim gained traction amid nationwide shortages of infant formula. Parents say purchasing restrictions and price gouging have left them increasingly desperate to get their hands on the food required for infants who are not breastfed, a situation that has also sparked a number of inaccurate claims.

But the posts are not promoting a valid service, according to Abbott, the health care company that owns Similac.

Karen Twigg May, Abbott's senior director of public affairs, told AFP: "These offers (in the social media posts) are not valid."

Reckitt, which owns Enfamil, sent AFP an email with a list of actions it has taken to counter the nationwide shortage. The list did not mention free formula for families who requested it. 

AFP also called the phone numbers listed in the posts.

Abbott addresses the claim in a pre-recorded message: "Some social media posts have rumored we're providing free cases of Similac infant formula. This is not true. We understand the anxiety of parents who are facing empty shelves and we're doing everything we can to get more formula to families."

AFP also spoke to an agent who confirmed the assistance referenced in the Facebook posts does not exist. 

Reckitt's customer service line makes no such offer in its audio menu, either. A pre-recorded message said: "Regrettably, we're unable to provide product samples or discounts at this time."

For families struggling amid the formula shortage, the US Department of Health and Human Services has compiled a list of resources here.