Many American parents feel desperate to secure baby formula for their infants amid a nationwide shortage, but online ordering advice that’s spreading on Facebook isn’t the quick fix it seems.
“TO ALL THE MOMS THAT CAN’T FIND BABY FORMULA,” one Facebook post said. “Go to Amazon… go to the bottom … change from U.S. to Canada. You can get all the formula you need. They are not having a shortage just the U.S. is. Have it shipped to your front door.”
“TikTok Hack,” said another post. “Supposedly if you go on Amazon and change over to Canada you can order baby formula, no shortage.”
These posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The Associated Press reported on May 16 that the formula shortage in the United States is starting to impact some Canadian stores, but the country isn’t nearly as affected as its neighbor to the south.
However, changing your preferred country/region from the United States to Canada on Amazon’s website isn’t a loophole for American residents to tap into Canadian stock.
U.S.-based Amazon customers aren’t able to buy baby formula from Amazon.ca if it’s sold and shipped by Amazon or sold by third-party sellers and shipped by Amazon, according to the company.
“We know these products are of great importance to parents and caregivers and are working closely with our selling partners to get them back in stock as quickly as possible,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
Third-party sellers on Amazon can ship their own products across the border, but as Snopes noted, it comes at a cost. When a Snopes reporter tried to purchase baby formula from a third-party seller, the quoted shipping price was $35.
After a U.S.-based PolitiFact reporter changed their preferred region to Canada on Amazon’s website and went through the steps to try to order a few in-stock formulas in Canada from third-party sellers, the reporter was met with an apologetic message from Amazon: “Sorry, this item can’t be shipped to your selected address.”
Jenifer Lightdale, a pediatric gastroenterologist at UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center, told KHOU in Houston that she doesn’t recommend parents import formula from other countries.
“You might think you’re buying it from Canada, but somebody’s giving flour in a can,” she said. “You don’t really know who you’re buying it from.”
Some Facebook posts claim Americans can order baby formula from Canada on Amazon and have it shipped to U.S. addresses if customers change their preferred country from the U.S. to Canada on the Amazon website.
That’s not quite right; these posts ignore critical facts that leave desperate parents with a misleading impression.
Formula sold and shipped by Amazon, and formula sold by third-party sellers and shipped by Amazon, aren’t crossing the border to a U.S. address, no matter how you change your settings.
But there’s an element of truth here: Third-party sellers who do their own shipping can send orders across the border. But that comes at a cost, and with some safety risks.
We rate these posts Mostly False.