Mead Johnson Lies About Baby Formula...Again
PBM Products Sues Mead Johnson for Third False Advertising Campaign
GORDONSVILLE, VA—April 28, 2009—PBM Products, LLC, a leading infant formula company that supplies store-brand infant formulas to Walmart, Sam’s Club, Target, Kroger, Walgreens, and other retailers, is suing Mead Johnson Nutrition Company (NYSE: MJN) and Mead Johnson & Co. (“Mead Johnson”), division of Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY), the makers of the national brand Enfamil® LIPIL® Infant Formula. Today, PBM filed a verified complaint against Mead Johnson in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Mead Johnson has ignored the court’s two prior injunctions by launching yet another false and misleading advertising campaign designed to undermine public confidence in PBM’s store-brand infant formulas. The details of the complaint are posted online in full:
“Incredibly, this marks the third time Mead Johnson has engaged in false advertising campaigns against PBM’s competing store-brand infant formulas by distributing literally false advertising to doctors and mothers,” said PBM CEO Paul B. Manning. “The two previous times we sued Mead Johnson for false and misleading advertisements, the court ruled in favor of PBM and Mead Johnson’s senior executives and scientists admitted that Mead Johnson’s statements were literally false. After three strikes, we believe Mead Johnson should be out of the false advertisement business when it comes to baby formula.”
Mead Johnson has falsely stated that only Mead Johnson’s Enfamil® LIPIL® has two fats, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid), which Mead Johnson calls “LIPIL® ” for marketing purposes. Mead Johnson touts LIPIL®, i.e. DHA and ARA, as promoting infant brain and eye development.
- Mead Johnson’s false advertising campaign consists of national magazine advertisements, including one which states, “[o]nly Enfamil® has LIPIL®, our blend of DHA and ARA, important nutrients found in breast milk.”
- Mead Johnson’s new direct “mailer” promotional advertisements state, “En-Fact: Enfamil LIPIL’s unique formulation is not available in any store brand.”
- Mead Johnson also includes in its print ads and on its Web site an alarming blurry picture of a child’s cartoon duck, which suggests feeding infants anything but Enfamil® LIPIL® will result in reduced vision and brain development.
These statements are literally false; in fact, PBM’s store-brand infant formulas, which are nutritionally comparable to Enfamil® LIPIL®, some virtually identical, contain the same DHA and ARA in the same amounts, sourced from the same supplier, as Mead Johnson’s Enfamil® LIPIL®. Additionally, Mead Johnson intentionally maintains its false advertising campaign and the blurry-eyed baby graphic, despite adverse rulings from the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (NAD).
Mead Johnson’s motives for misleading consumers are reported by Mead Johnson in its 2009 initial public offering documents. Mead Johnson spent nearly $300 million on world-wide advertising and product promotion in 2008. The documents go on to reveal the following:
- “…[m]any other companies, including manufacturers of private label, store and economy products, manufacture and sell one or more products that are similar to those marketed by us…”
- “…the current downturn, could cause customers to shift their purchases from our higher priced premium products to lower-priced products, including private label or store brands, which could materially adversely affect our business.”
Economics aside, new research from The NDP Group indicates 97 percent of households in the United States purchase store brands (private-label food and beverages) because of a drastic change in quality perception; the Nielsen Company, for instance, found that that 63 percent of consumers consider the quality of store brands to be as high as name brand products, and 33 percent said they were better quality. Further, Information Resources Inc., reports sales of store-brand infant formula have increased nearly 30 percent during the 52 weeks ending October 5, 2008.
PBM’s store-brand infant formulas cost up to 50 percent less than Enfamil® LIPIL®. All of PBM’s formulas, and for that matter all U.S. infant formulas, are subject to the exacting standards of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), pursuant to the Infant Formula Act of 1980. This legislation vested FDA with the authority to ensure that all infant formula products sold in the United States provide the necessary levels of identified nutrients required for the growth of healthy babies. For more information, visit www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/cfr107.html#spl.
PBM is privately owned and based in Gordonsville, VA. PBM companies specialize in manufacturing, distributing, and marketing consumer food, nutritional, and pharmaceutical products. For more information, visit www.pbmproducts.com.
Enfamil® LIPIL® are registered trademarks of Mead Johnson & Co.
Contact: Joe Shields, Director of Public Relations, (800) 959-2066 ext. 1131