Baby Formula Safety 101: Do This, Not That

July 1, 2022

baby formula mom and babyRecent infant formula recalls, and formula shortages have directed the spotlight on the importance of formula safety. 

Women’s Health Associates (WHA) is committed to ensuring our patients, families, and the wider community have access to safe and nourishing formulas. Do not hesitate to contact our office with any formula or infant feeding questions you may have or for current approved formula brands/batches.

Baby Formula Safety 101: Do This, Not That

Here are our Top 10 tips for using formula safety and minimizing the risk of foodborne illnesses or unnecessary stomach upset.

1. Pay attention to CDC & FDA formula recall information

The CDC and FDA websites maintain updated information about formula recalls. Check these sites regularly to ensure none of your powdered formula brands/lot codes are referenced. Check your formula lot codes and stop using recalled batches immediately. You can return recalled formula for a full refund from the store where you bought it.

2. Know the signs of foodborne illness in infants

The most recent recalls were related to complaints of bacterial infections in infants who consumed powdered infant formula produced in Abbott Nutrition’s facility in Sturgis, Michigan. However, foodborne illness and bacterial infection are risks in any situation where harmful bacteria make their way into the infant food stream via unwashed hands, unsterilized bottles/feeding accessories, or other contamination sources.

Babies, especially infants three months old or younger, are particularly vulnerable to the side effects of a stomach infection, including dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. Contact your pediatrician or their 24-hour nurse hotline if you notice any of the following signs of foodborne illness or stomach infection:

● Not wanting to eat or refusing feedings
● Excessive vomiting or diarrhea
● Fever
● Unusually sharp or incessant crying
● Low-energy
● Seizures (in very rare but serious cases)

3. Only purchase formula made in the USA

Yes, the most recent recalls occurred in a USA facility. Still, the regulations and rapid reporting tools built into FDA regulations mean word spread quickly, and a recall was instantaneously placed in effect. That is not the case should a similar situation occur in a formula made in another country, where food manufacturing facilities are less regulated, or warnings or reports of suspected issues may not spread fast enough to reach U.S. consumers.

4. DO: Wash hands and bottle apparatus thoroughly

Anyone preparing formula should wash their hands thoroughly with warm water and soap before mixing a new bottle. Similarly, the bottles, lids, nipples, formula scoops, or any utensils used to mix formula should be sterilized between uses. Read the CDC’s webpage, How to Clean, Sanitize, and Store Infant Feeding Items, for detailed instructions.

5. DON’T: purchase or use expired formula

All formula packages include expiration dates. Verify the stamped dates regularly. Never use any formula after the expiration date. Instead, throw expired formula into the garbage to prevent it from being used accidentally.

6. DON’T: microwave bottles to warm them

There is no need to warm formula before feeding it to your infant or toddler. However, do not use the microwave if you prefer to warm it. Microwaving formula can create hot pockets that burn the baby’s mouth and throat. Instead, use warm running water – careful not to let extra water enter the nipple. Then, test the formula’s temperature by expressing a few drops on the back of your hand. If it’s too warm for your hand, it’s too warm for the baby.

7. DO: Use safe drinking water, mixed as instructed

The formula is designed to be mixed using fresh, safe water. Contact your local health department if you are unsure of your tap water’s quality. Keep sealed filtered water on hand for emergencies. Also, only use the formula scoop provided by the manufacturer. Different brands have different-sized scoops and mixing instructions, so the scoops are not interchangeable.

8. DO: Use formula within two hours after it’s mixed

Once you’ve mixed the formula, it should be used within two hours. Any unfinished formula should be discarded after two hours. It should never be saved in the refrigerator or frozen “for later.” This puts formula at risk for harmful bacteria growth. Once the baby begins drinking from the bottle, the formula should be consumed within one hour. Anything left after that should be discarded.

9. DO: Keep formula stored in a cool, dry location

Unopened formula should be kept in a cool, dry location, preferably with relatively consistent temperatures. Once the container is open, keep it sealed tightly with a lid in the same location, never in a refrigerator where humidity levels and circulating contaminants could compromise its safety.

10. DON’T use formula that’s been open for longer than one month

Write the date you open a new can of formula on the lid. Once a can is opened, the contents should be used within one month. After that, any remaining formula should be thrown out.

WHA Is An Ally When Navigating Safe Infant Feeding & Nutrition

Do you have questions about formula or feeding your infant? Would you like input or guidance about some of your feeding challenges? Is your baby showing any signs of infection, such as fever, lack of energy, or reluctance to feed?

Women’s Health Associates is your best ally, and we’re here to provide the information, education, and support you need. Call us at (913) 677-3113 or contact us online to schedule an appointment for non-emergency situations. We’ll be there every step to determine what’s causing your baby’s upset and provide the treatment and support you both need.