Formula Facts

Posted on January 26, 2010. Filed under: Health |

“Breast is best.”

“Save at least $2000 a year by breastfeeding”

You see these one-liners on everything; including infant formula!  Yet breastfeeding is not as easy as it seems.  It is especially hard for working moms.  According to the Centers For Disease Control, in 2005, only 33.1% of babies were still exclusively breastfeed by three months of age.  This is the age many moms have to go back to work. So if you are a Mom that had or will need to supplement with formula, or exclusively formula feed, it does need quick thinking because between bottles, nipples and formula, you are quickly thrust into a new world.

I know this world. I am a nursing mom that supplements with 5 ounces of formula a day.  With the range of formula options on the market, it is overwhelming.  You want to give your baby the best and all the product packages claim to be the best.  Yet, what if one formula maker took it a step further?  Not only claiming they were the best, but that the other formulas could harm your baby.  Would you believe them?  Many women did and the government got involved when a particular formula company took advantage.

On December 2, 2009, a federal court upheld a $13.5 million jury verdict against Mead Johnson & Co. (the makers of Enfamil LIPIL infant formula) for false advertising.  Mead Johnson & Co. claimed the Enfamil LIPIL infant formula offered better nutrition benefits compared to store-brand baby formula made by PBM Products LLC.  (PBM Products LLC makes store brand formula sold at Target, Walmart and other major retailers).

It stems from a 2008 Mead Johnson mailing to 1.6 million parents showing a clear picture of a yellow cartoon duck next to a blurry picture of the same duck. As alleged in the lawsuit, the mailing suggested the store brand blend of ingredients was inferior and would result in poor eye and brain development. Mead Johnson claimed “it may be tempting to try a less expensive store brand, but only Enfamil LIPIL is clinically proven to improve brain and eye development.”  According to PBM though, the PBM’s infant formulas have the same DHA and ARA nutrients at the same levels as Enfamil LIPIL.  

As reported in PBM’s December 2, 2009 press release, “This decision by a jury of the people confirms that Mead Johnson’s ads have been false in suggesting that there is a nutritional difference between our store-brand formula products and their products, when in fact the only major difference is price.”

Yikes!  I feel for those Moms that trusted.  What it shows though, is that we need better information about infant formula. Moms, Dads, and even grandparents, should start demanding more data and more disclosure in infant formula so we can make the best decision for our children.

Babies are expensive and often we do have to make decisions based on price; whether it is formula or a stroller, a high chair or crib.   Parents should not be made to feel guilty by large corporations for considering price.  Nor should parents have inferior products as seen in the slew of recent product recalls.  Having access to honest and unbiased opinions is key and there are resources available to help.  The book Baby Bargains, by Denise Fields, is a leading source, and Consumer Reports® is a popular site for independent reviews.

It is great that the false advertising by Mead Johnson & Co. has come to light, but I hope the powers-that-be continue to expose unfair practices and that parents take back control.

(Leave a comment on this post sharing a baby bargain tip and one lucky commenter will win a copy of Consumer Reports 2009 Best Baby Products guide.  Comments must be posted and approved by February 1, 2010. The winner will be selected using the sequential method via Random.org.  The winner will be contacted by February 4th and must provide a valid mailing address by February 6th.  Failure to do so will result in another drawing.)

(Picture by lieffcabraser.com)

Please note that by writing this post, I am eligible for a $25 gift card.  However, the article and opinions are my own.

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