Thursday, January 3, 2013

My disenchantment with Enfamil

My daughters very first taste of food was a Nursette bottle of premixed liquid Enfamil Formula provided by the hospital. I had heard great things about Enfamil so I had no problem feeding it to her whilst I got the hang of breastfeeding. When we were leaving the hospital we received a few free bottles of the liquid formula and they were really convenient to use for the first few days home.

Once the liquid formula ran out, we turned to our mini collection of powder formula cans that we had in the cabinet. We build up this collection as a result of free sample cans we received in the mail. Some of the free samples came as a result of my shopping trip to Destination Maternity when they practically forced me to sign up for them,  but aside from that I honestly couldn't keep track of who else sent me the other free cans formula. I did sign up with certain sites like Gerber, Similac and  Everyday family, so I suppose they must have sent me the free samples.  At this point we hadn't actually purchased any formula. We wanted to try out the samples we had first and then see which ones she liked and purchase more of that.

I grabbed the first can of formula I found in the cabinet; it was Enfamil Gentlease formula. According to the label, the Gentlease formula is designed to ease fussiness and gas because it contains "easily digested proteins that are partially broken down" Luckily it was a pretty smooth transition from the premixed liquid formula to the powdered Gentlease. She didn't even seem to notice a difference so I was pretty pleased with that.

Once that can of gentlease ran out, I went back to our formula collection to see what other options we had. We didn't have anymore gentlease, but we did have regular powder Newborn Enfamil and powder Infant Enfamil. I didn't really understand what the difference was but I decided to try the newborn formula because it looked just like the liquid formula we had started out with at the hospital, so I assumed it would be the same thing.

Liquid & Powder formula

I was wrong. Despite looking identical as you can see from the photo above, the powder formula in the can is nothing like the liquid in the bottle.  Long story short, we hated this powder formula, it was way too bubbly and made her gassy. We stopped using it immediately and went out to buy more of the Gentlease and thought that all was well with the world again.

All the free formula we had received came either in a bottle or a can like the photos above, but when I went out to buy more Gentlease they didn't have any regular 12.5oz cans available, instead they had the new plastic reusable tubs that contain 22.2 oz of powdered formula.

These tubs were supposed to be such a great new idea, they were more cost efficient than the smaller cans and were eco-friendly because you could just keep refilling them with the refill packs, not to mention the fact that the inside lid of the tub has a storage slot for the scoop, so you no longer have to dig into the formula to find the scoop.  Of course I decided to buy it, it was a total no brainer,  who wouldn't want to save money and get a more convenient product at the same time?

I brought the tub home and opened it up and found that inside the tub was a foil packet that contained the powder formula. According to the instructions, I had two options; I could either wash and dry the plastic tub and then pour the formula into the tub directly or I could keep the formula inside the foil packet. The inner foil packet is like the bag inside a cereal box and can be folded down much the same way after it has been opened. To make things even easier there is a sticky tab at the top of it that can be use to reseal it after if it had been opened.  I decided that I would leave the powder inside the foil packet.  So I carefully opened the foil while it was still inside the tub, I took a few scoops to make her bottle and then neatly folded it down and used the sticky tab to hold it shut. I wasn't too thrilled with the whole process, it seemed like it was now too many steps involved in making a bottle of formula.  I had to open the tub, then open the foil packet then reseal it then close the tub. The cans were so much easier than that but I assured myself I would get used to it, or I would have to just wash the tub and pour the formula directly in the tub and eliminate the foil packet altogether.

The very next day, I went to make her a bottle and when I opened the tub, I saw what looked like a weevil crawling inside the tub but on the outside of the foil packet. I did a double take. A weevil? How the heck did that get in there? I'd never seen that in any of her formula cans.  I looked around the cabinet, on the lower shelves I had other dry cereals like beans, rice, flour.. and its not uncommon to have weevils in those but I didn't understand how or why the weevil had managed to get inside the tub. I tried to convince myself it was just a fluke and that I should have washed the tub when I brought it home. I took the foil packet out and cleaned the tub.  I looked inside the foil packet and the formula seemed safe and sound, no weevils in sight.  So I put the foil packet back inside the tub and put the tub back in the cabinet.  For the rest of that day I didn't feed her any formula from that tub.

The next day I went back to the cabinet opened the tub, and was glad to see no weevils crawling inside the tub.  I opened the foil packed and to my dismay saw several small bugs happily crawling around inside the formula!! I was really frustrated, angry and confused .I had so many questions racing through my mind. Why was this happening!?  Were the bugs coming from inside the formula? Was the tub cursed?  I took the bugs out and then resealed the foil packet, closed the tub, and put the entire tub inside a big ziploc bag. I was really determined to find out if the weevils were coming from inside the formula or not. The next day when I checked back no more weevils or bugs to be found. I checked again the following day and nothing. It became clear to me that the bugs had climbed into the formula from other dry cereals that I had in my cabinet, but why were they able to get inside of it? I had kept the previous formula cans in that same cabinet and never found any type of bug inside any of them.

I examined the lid of the tub really closed and was shocked and disturbed to discover that unlike the smaller cans, the tub wasn't air tight!!!   The regular formula cans have a tight fitted rubbery lid that creates an airtight seal and keeps the formula fresh and protected from bacteria and any creepy crawlies that might be around. But the new tubs are totally different. The lid of the tub is attached to the base of the tub by two hinges on the back and a latch on the front. But the sides of the lid are totally loose, and thus there is not an air tight seal.

Side by side comparison of the can and tub as displayed in a Target store

Front latch holds the front of the lid down but notice the sides are slightly lifted up?

Notice the sides of the lid are lifted up?

Side view of the tub showing how loose the lid is even when closed.

Why why why would I want to store my expensive baby formula in a container that isn't air tight? I just don't understand! If the container is not air tight, I might as well just store the formula in an open bowl on my counter top.  At first I thought the problem was isolated to my tub, maybe I had received a defective one? So I went back to the store to exchange it for a new one, but to my surprise they were all like that. I checked out a few other stores like walmart, babies R us, Target... they were all the same; useless plastic tubs with useless flimsy lids. I was really disappointed and disgusted with Enfamil. They are not the cheapest brand of formula, so why was it that no one in their marketing team had noticed this problem?

I reported the issue to them, to see their reaction. I went on the Mead Johnson website and created a complaint. They responded with an email, asking me to call them, which I did twice. Their customer service reps were mediocre at best, they seemed only slightly concerned. They asked me to send in the tub and its contents and told me they would send me a $5 off coupon and three free cans of gentlease formula. As if that would make everything better again. What about all the tubs sitting on the shelves in the store waiting for unsuspecting moms to buy them? I told them repeatedly that I wasn't interested in the free stuff per se, I just really wanted to make sure they fixed this issue with the tubs so myself and other moms would no longer have problems with the formula getting contaminated. 

This was in July 1012, that was seven months ago, and so far there seems to be no sign of them taking any steps to rectify this issue.  This really disappointed me and made me understand that despite all their claims, they are just a cold hard business and don't really care about the well being of the babies that consume their product. They followed up by emailing me and sending me questionnaires to see if I was still using their product but never mentioned any action they were going to take.  The flimsy reusable tubs are still on the shelves and still being used by moms who trust the Enfamil brand name.  What a mighty big shame that companies like this will be well aware of flaws in their product but will do absolutely nothing about it.


  1. We found a staple in our small can of gentlease formula which my 5 month old daughter uses. When we called they offered us the same thing and didn't seem concerned about it at all. Our daughter has been getting very sick since we used this can of formula. I am VERY disappointed in Enfamil and am thinking of switching formulas.

  2. I;m sorry to hear that, and I'm not surprised by their response to you. They generally don't seem to care too much about the babies that consume their product and making sure their formula is in pristine condition. Such a shame!

  3. I had an experience with enfamil that was terrifying. My daughter ran a slight fever, spit up, and was fussy for 2 months. Her father and I glanced down at her in her activity center and as she looked up you could see under her eyes had turned black. I called her doctor and scheduled another appointment because I was in on a weekly basis for her unknown illness. She had already had several test done but they had come back normal. After calling the doctor I called my mom and told her I was scared I was going to lose her. My mom told me to take her off the enfamil right away and try a new formula. I had Gerber put up from before I switched her to enfamil thinking enfamil was better. An hour after switching her the fever, fussing, and spitting up was gone. I have never looked at my mom as an angel until that point. I finally get to enjoy my daughter. Her eyes are still a little dark underneath but have improved alot.