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Several formula producers have released statements saying the rumor is a hoax.
Heart-warming stories about businesses stepping up to help people struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic have flooded the internet.
Unfortunately not all of them are true. This Facebook post, for example, claims that families can receive free baby formula during the pandemic. It reads:
"If any parents have run out of formula or are running low - call the number on the back of your canister and explain to them the virus has affected your abilities to find any formula - they will send you a case free of charge! I know, enfamil and goodstart do this! Saw a few mommies posts & figured it could be worth a try!"
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
This isn’t a legitimate offer. Several formula producers have released statements addressing the rumor, including the ones mentioned in the text.
"Please also note that contrary to rumors in some online social networks, we are not distributing free cases of formula. We are instead focused on ensuring equitable availability for every baby based on what we know and in anticipation of what might develop in the coming weeks.
Gerber, a worldwide producer of baby food and infant formula, did the same on its website:
"We are aware of rumors claiming that Gerber is giving away free formula in response to the out of stocks. While this is not true, we are committed to our goal of supporting babies and families with dependable, affordable nutrition, and you can find information about discounts by visiting https://gerber.com/coupons."
Formula brand Similac also addressed the rumor. It reads:
"While some social media posts have rumored we’re providing free cases of infant formula, this is not true. We value you as a customer and appreciate your patience as we all work together to ensure the ongoing and consistent distribution of the Similac products your baby needs. Our focus is on working closely with our local teams, retail partners, and government authorities to help safeguard the availability of infant formula products for all families and their infants."
Aptamil, a formula brand in the United Kingdom, said on its website that the company is unable to send out free formula products due to strict regulations in the UK.
"This is not true and I’m really sorry to hear that people are spreading false rumours at such a worrying time," an Aptamil spokesperson told Yahoo News UK. "The World Health Organization guidelines on the promotion of breastmilk substitutes strictly prohibit us from giving out free milk under any circumstances."
This is a hoax. Formula companies say they aren’t shipping free formula to anyone. Pants on Fire!
Facebook post, March 15, 2020
Enfamil, A message to our Enfamil community regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, reinforcing our long-standing commitment to nourish the best start for our most important person, every baby, in all times, March 19, 2020
Gerber, An Important Message for the Gerber Community on COVID-19, March 17, 2020
Similac, COVID-19 update, March 20, 2020
Aptaclub.co.uk, Coronavirus and product availability, Accessed March 23, 2020
Yahoo News UK, 'Free baby formula' claim is just another coronavirus hoax, officals warn, March 16, 2020
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