People Are Asking Enfamil for More Sensitivity Around Its Wonder Box

Sending free formula to people who aren't pregnant in the middle of a shortage is no way to make friends. But that's what Enfamil did, and Twitter is outraged for several other reasons.

Close up of Enfamil Formula Cans

Twitter is asking Walgreens and Enfamil to read the room.

Free stuff is great and all, but during a nationwide formula shortage, it's probably not a great idea to send free samples to people who are not pregnant—or who are and haven't asked for baby and pregnancy related products. But that's what Enfamil did, and the recipient called out the formula company and Walgreens on Twitter.

"Dear @Walgreens," started the user, Nicole, who goes by @melancholynsex on the platform. "I received this package today, a week after purchasing a pregnancy test at your store. I was asked to take the test by my doctor despite having no Fallopian tubes."

Nicole posted a photo of the package with the tweet. It's a box of four sample containers of Enfamil formula.

How did Enfamil know Nicole purchased a pregnancy test at Walgreens and get their address? Nicole has an idea. "I, of course, used my rewards card when checking out. So, I'm pretty sure that's how this got to me," Nicole tweeted.

There's a whole lot more than four unopened containers of Enfamil to unpack here.

First, the formula shortage. "Yet @Enfamil is sending out formula all willy-nilly based on the data you clearly sold them. Shame on you, @Enfamil," Nicole wrote.

Nicole wasn't trying to get pregnant. But what if she was? "Wouldn't this be a kick in the face?!" she tweeted. Infertility can feel lonely enough without unneeded formula showing up at your doorstep after yet another BFN (big fat negative).

And then there are other, potentially physically dangerous consequences to consider, especially in a post-Roe era that has people fearfully deleting period tracking apps from their phones.

"Try this one on: I'm in an abusive relationship, and my partner intercepts this package," Nicole wrote. "What do you say to the women in states where abortion is now illegal? Are you trying to make a political statement, or is this just a big money grab?"

For what it's worth, the "Wonder Box" does say the formula is "regiftable," which actually just riled Nicole up even more. "Kiss off, @Enfamil and @Walgreens from all the women who actually need this box that you are not helping," Nicole wrote.

It's not the first time Enfamil has been called out. In June, another user who hasn't had a baby in five years expressed similar concerns after receiving a box of free samples. Enfamil explained they purchase nationwide mailing lists and encouraged the user to donate the formula. Or maybe just stop sending out free formula samples during a shortage?

They probably should have cut it out in June because Nicole's thread went viral, with more than 30K retweets and 154K likes. The comments were about as brutal as the thread.

"Between this and a Walgreens clerk refusing to sell condoms to a married couple, I think that we can cross them off our list of places to shop," wrote one user.

"So now we have to use cash to buy pregnancy tests? This is what we have come to. If they sell your info to @enfamil, what is preventing them from giving it to the state in red states so they can monitor you?" lamented another.

Another person had similar alarm bells going off when reading the thread. "This should serve as a wake-up call to everyone about how easy it would be to target and criminalize women making private reproductive health purchases," the person tweeted.

Even international users were giving Walgreens and Enfamil the side-eye.

"I am really, really grateful for EU GDPR and other data protection legislation. And don't start me on how anti-breastfeeding. There are many reasons you may need a pregnancy test; the leap taken here…is obnoxious," tweeted one user.

"I really hope Australia never gets to this point. Legislation of the Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is required," said another.

Nicole addressed the comments about undermining breastfeeding efforts in a subsequent tweet.

"I've seen a lot of people talking about how this is pushing formula over breastfeeding. I can't speak to that, but I will say I support feeding your baby in the best way possible—whatever that looks like for you. There is no formula-shaming here," Nicole wrote.

There is zero shame in formula feeding for any reason. It's a perfectly acceptable way to feed a child, and formula-fed kids thrive, too. But shaming formula companies for predatory marketing, which are often particularly targeted towards poor areas of the world, is different than shaming parents.

The WHO and UNICEF released a joint report earlier this year about these strategies, and free samples were one of the tactics these formula companies employed. Though there's nothing wrong with formula feeding, the WHO and, most recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest breastfeeding for two years, stating it provides a range of benefits to the lactating person and baby. Receiving unsolicited formula samples can undermine efforts to boost human milk feeding and the health benefits that come with it, the WHO and UNICEF fear.

Benefits of human milk aside, we are in the middle of a formula shortage, and people who purchase pregnancy tests deserve privacy and safety. Parents reached out to both Walgreens and Enfamil.

Kris Lathan, a Corporate Communications representative from Walgreens says, "The privacy of our customers is important to Walgreens. Walgreens does not provide individual customer purchase information to Enfamil."

Rachel Collins, an associate representing Reckitt, the company that owns the Enfamil brand, says, "Reckitt does not have access to Walgreens' customer personal information. To receive any promotional items from Reckitt, consumers must opt-in and provide consent either with Reckitt directly or with one of its partners. To learn more about our practices, please see our brand privacy policy at:"

This consent seems in contrast to what Enfamil tweeted to Michelle in June, though.

We hope Enfamil will change the way information is gathered and shared so that unsuspecting people are not put at risk.

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