As concerns over the global coronavirus pandemic continue to fuel shortages at grocery stores, some folks on social media have sought to hopefully ease parents' minds with a viral claim that companies will send cases of baby formula to families who can't find it in stores. But the companies behind three popular brands tell Romper that the viral posts about free baby formula during the coronavirus pandemic simply aren't true.
A message claiming parents can obtain a case of baby formula due to the recent coronavirus outbreak has gone viral on social media networks. One such post shared on Facebook urged parents who can't find formula in stores right now to "grab the can of formula that you do have and call the number on the back and they will send you a whole case during this time."
The manufacturers behind multiple popular brands, however, tell Romper the viral posts are, unfortunately, spreading false information. "We are aware of a post being circulated on social media that offers free formula," Abbott Laboratories, which makes Similac, tells Romper. "Currently, Similac is not offering any free product through our customer service line, but our team is focused on doing all that we can to ensure adequate supply at retail for all customers who need it."
Customers having trouble locating Similac baby formula in stores were encouraged to try ordering through one of Abbott's online options. Additionally, the company urged parents to avoid pantry loading and instead buy only what they need so as to ensure availability for all who need formula. "The health and safety of families is our top priority," Abbot tells Romper. "To make sure all families have the formula they need, we encourage responsible buying choices, and we ask that people purchase for their immediate needs."
Enfamil, a brand made by Mead Johnson, also refuted claims of free formula when contacted by Romper. "Contrary to rumors in some online social networks, we are not distributing free cases of formula," Enfamil said in a message regarding the recent coronavirus pandemic. "We are instead focused on ensuring equitable availability for every baby."
The company said they are "committed to helping every baby get the formula" they need, and were "doing everything we can to ensure product availability" in local neighborhood stores and in their online marketplace. What's more, the company said parents could obtain coupons, special offers, and other savings through the Enfamil Family Beginnings program. "We are committed to doing our best to provide formulas for your little one as we navigate these challenging times," the company said.
Gerber also denied the claims being laid out in viral social media posts. "We are aware of rumors claiming that Gerber is giving away free formula in response to the out of stocks," a spokesperson for the company tells Romper. "While this is not true, we are committed to our goal of supporting babies and families with dependable, affordable nutrition."
And while some stores may be experiencing shortages of formula at the moment, Gerber stressed there was not a shortage of formula. "We want to reassure families across the nation that there is currently adequate supply of Gerber infant formula in the United States," Gerber's spokesperson tells Romper. "We are working closely with our retail partners to restock any empty shelves as quickly as possible to meet demand. We have increased production and are now operating seven days a week, doing everything we can to quickly fill retail orders as soon as they're received so we can help stores maintain their stocks."
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.