The Gucci Bag of Formula Brands & The Class Action Lawsuit Against It

Deceptive formula marketing is a not only a pet peeve of mine but it is also dangerous. When the ignorant and uninformed state nonsense in defense of formula companies I cringe. I cringe because some people will never understand that the people who engage in the deceptive marketing strategies do not care about babies. They care about money which is fine. I love capitalism but not at the expense of anyone's health. I received an email this morning informing me of a class action lawsuit that has been filed.

The lawsuit is "against Mead Johnson & Company in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division (styledCharity and Brian Roberts v. Mead Johnson & Company, Case No. 2:10-cv-01159-KOB) alleging that Mead Johnson falsely represented to consumers that the Enfamil Lipil was the only infant formula product that contained DHA and ARA and that the Enfamil Lipil was the only infant formula product that was clinically proven to improve brain and eye function in infants, according to a class action lawsuit news report.

As I have previously mentioned my son was formula fed from the age of seven months to a year old due to decreased supply I experienced once I became pregnant with my daughter. I am not an enemy of formula by any means. It is absolutely necessary in some (not half as many as some people would have you believe but some) cases. I am an enemy of the lies that the formula industry tells in order to push its product. Enfamil marketed its Lipil formula as "the only infant formula product that contained DHA and ARA and that the Product was the only infant formula product that was clinically proven to improve brain and eye function in infants". Lies.

It gets more disturbing.

"In fact, other brands of infant formula, including lower-priced store brands, contain DHA and ARA in amounts equal to or greater than those contained in Mead Johnson’s Product and are no less effective than Mead Johnson’s Product in promoting brain and eye development in infants.  Moreover, Mead Johnson willfully failed to disclose to consumers the material facts that:  1) the formulation of its Product has changed 19 times since its purported ability to promote brain and eye development was clinically tested..."

According to the lawsuit I could have been saving money, a few dollars doesn't affect my family's bottom line but to some families the difference is significant, but what is worse, so much worse, is that Mead Johnson could have endangered my child's life with its NINETEEN formula experimentations.

I knew when I made the choice to formula feed versus finding donor milk that there were risks involved but many people don't. Some people delude themselves into believing the hype espoused in the commercials and marketing materials that these companies blanket doctor's offices and television commercials with. The attractive and tender imagery used when the beautiful new mother hands off the gorgeous fragile baby to daddy for a bottle feeding in order to get herself some much needed rest. Cute. It is marketing that is used for every single commercial item used in every single commercial marketplace. People do not get it.

SEE it is all the same. You could be saving money by using the store brand. Formula is not akin to a Coach bag versus a Gucci bag or even versus carrying a plain old plastic bag. You are not fancy for using the Gucci formula. It is all the same. Save your money, educate yourself, and stop believing the hype.

Formula companies do not care about you or your baby. They care about your money. This is why they spend millions of dollars studying consumer behavior. They market their product as "the only infant formula product that was clinically proven to improve brain and eye function in infants" because they know parents want their children to have great brains and eyes! It is so simple yet so sneaky.

I used this brand of formula because I had a free sample I had received in the mail. Simple as that. This is the formula my husband fed my son once my freezer stash dwindled while I was away on a business trip. P tolerated it and we continued to buy it. In all honesty if I had known about the experimentation (which as a competent person one has to believe that formula companies do this constantly) I would have avoided the brand.  If I had known that the formulation was exactly the same as the generic brands I would also have avoided Enfamil but I did not know because the can clearly stated "in red print (the most prominent color print on the entire label), that ―This scientifically-developed formula is not available in a store brand".

My son is healthy and all is well but the issue is the marketing. If formula is an acceptable breast milk substitute why is there always trickery and skullduggery associated with its marketing practices? Let the product speak for itself right? Mead Johnson would not let the product speak for itself the lawsuit alleges because according to their prospectus

In periods of economic uncertainty, consumers tend to shift their purchases from our higher-priced premium products to lower-priced products, including private label and store brand products.  We believe private label and store brand product manufacturers have continued to gain market share in the United States over the past 12 months.

No mention of sweet snuggly babies or concern for their health is mentioned as you can see. The only concerns are bottom lines, increased market share, and growing profits.

Stop lying to yourself. You know that formula companies do not have our children's best interests at heart. It is time to admit it and take action. If you are formula feeding then buy the store brand you are saving yourself money and hitting these corporations where it hurts: the bottom line.

Remember that if they are proven in a court of law to be lying about the exclusivity of their formula contents that they are capable of lying about anything. They probably already have.