Feeding baby expired formula
Can you use expired baby formula?
As parents throughout the U.S. try to find nutrition solutions amid the nation’s baby formula shortage, some seem to be wondering if it’s OK to serve expired baby formula.
The question has spiked nine times in the last year, according to online search data on Google Trends. Sunday, May 1, appears to be the last time Americans searched the term: "Can you use expired baby formula?"
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A Target store in Long Island, New York, has a sign stating that certain baby formula brands will have ‘sporadic’ inventory due to an FDA recall. Formula shelves appear to be low on stock as a result. Photo taken by Nicole Pelletiere. (Fox News Digital)
Health experts have addressed this question in the past before the baby formula shortage captured national attention. The short answer is no, parents shouldn’t feed expired formula to babies, even when there’s inadequate supply.
What risks are associated with expired baby formula?
"Do not feed your baby formula that has expired," said Dr. Alexa Mieses Malchuk, a family physician at UNC Health – a not-for-profit medical system in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
"Formula is not crafted to last forever. Nutrients can degrade and bacteria can grow over time," Malchuk continued. "This can be harmful to infants and children."
Health experts unanimously agree that expired baby formula should be avoided. (iStock)
In an email, Malchuk told Fox News Digital that parents should avoid using expired liquid and powdered formulas.
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"Expired formula lacks proper nutrients and puts children at risk for mold ingestion," said Iza Correll, a pediatric health and wellness specialist who founded OVI Healthcare – a Kentucky-based nonprofit hospital that operates in Kenya.
Health agencies warn against expired formula
The U. S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration agree that parents should stay away from expired baby formula.
"Do not buy or use infant formula after its use-by date," the USDA addressed in a FAQ webpage.
The agency noted that the FDA requires manufacturers to print use-by dates on formula containers, but printing on baby foods isn't required.
"If the manufacturer has put a date on the baby food, however, use it before the date expires," the USDA wrote.
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Baby formula manufacturers are required to print expiration dates, according to the FDA. (iStock)
The FDA says use-by dates are meant to "inform retailers and consumers about the quality of the infant formula," and are determined by each formula manufacturer's internal testing and nutrition data.
"Until that declared date, the infant formula will contain no less than the amount of each nutrient declared on the product label and will otherwise be of acceptable quality," the FDA wrote, citing guidelines from its Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements.
How should baby formula be stored?
An Infant Formula Preparation and Storage guide published by the CDC notes that unopened baby formula containers should be stored indoors in a "cool" and "dry" setting. Vehicles, garages and outdoor settings are not advised.
When opened, the CDC says baby formula containers need to have a "tightly closed" lid and should be stored in a "cool, dry place," but the containers shouldn’t be put in a refrigerator.
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"Most infant formulas need to be used within 1 month of opening the container," the CDC wrote. "When you first open the container, write the date on the lid to help you remember."
Unprepared baby formula should be stored in a ‘cool, dry place.’ Health experts recommend consulting each formula's packaging for storage, prep and disposal information. (iStock)
The FDA, on the other hand, says baby formula purchasers should consult the label manufacturers put on each formula container to determine "handling before and after the container is opened. "
These labels are also required to state how prepared formulas should be prepared and disposed of, according to the FDA’s Infant Formula: Safety Do's and Don'ts webpage.
Can you donate baby formula?
Some food banks and shelters accept baby formula donations, but government agencies like the USDA and CDC advise against accepting donations from unknown sources out of an abundance of caution.
The reason is improperly stored formulas could potentially cause more harm than good.
"Unused, returned infant formula may have been inappropriately stored (e.g., exposed to extremely high temperatures), may be past its use-by-date, or subjected to tampering (e.g., labels or use-by dates changed)," the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service wrote in a WIC Policy Memorandum. "Some of these conditions can cause products to lose nutrients, impact the product’s safety, and potentially threaten the health of recipients."
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Some food banks and shelters accept baby formula donations, but government agencies recommend against it due to storage, tampering and expiration risks. Donor discretion advised. (iStock)
These complex lists of risks are a big reason why the USDA FNS advises clinics that work with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program to not donate "unused" or "returned" baby formulas to "food banks or food pantries."
Instead, the USDA FNS says WIC clinics should dispose of these formulas "in accordance with state and local health and safety laws."
Similarly, the CDC advises against baby formula, breast milk substitutes and breast pump donations during states of emergency.
Baby formulas need to be stored at right temperatures and within their ‘use-by’ date to ensure nutrients aren't degraded. (iStock)
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"Relief organizations should only provide ready-to-use infant formula to infants who are already formula feeding or have had breastfeeding interrupted in certain situations," the CDC wrote in its Disaster Planning: Infant and Child Feeding guideline.
Cortney Moore is an associate lifestyle writer on the Lifestyle team at Fox News Digital.
Does Baby Formula Expire? (Including Unopened Can)
Many parents wonder does baby formula expire or how long does baby formula last? It’s a fair question considering the price of the formula and the fact that a baby might have a preference or suddenly require certain dietary needs.
There are some differences in terms of expire date of baby formula depending on whether it’s been opened, the seal on the can is unopened or you still want to put some ready-to-go bottle in the fridge.
Does Baby Formula Expire?
Yes, sadly baby formula does expire.
Unopened Baby Formula Cans:
If you suddenly find an unopened can of baby formula if you look at bottom of your baby formula canister you’ll find a use-by or expiration date to indicate its unopened shelf life. This is usually about a year after the manufacture date.
Freezing and refrigeration of the powder is not recommended, as it can introduce moisture and cause changes to the formula’s composition (this also applies to opened cans!).
Opened Baby Powder Cans Expiry Date:
What is the baby formula expiration date after opening? If you or someone else already opened a can of formula you only have 30 days after opening before it expires.
Make sure to store the formula following the standard storage procedure of keeping it somewhere indoors in a dry, cool place. The expiry date of opened cans of baby formula are less to do with the loss and breakdown of nutrition, but more to do with the risk of bacteria.
Premixed Baby Formula:
Many parents like to mix up baby formula ahead of time and use a bottle warmer to make life easier, but it’s generally not recommended with baby formula. It’s easier and safer to get a water warmer.
If you pre-mixed your formula and put it in the fridge it has to be consumed within 24 hours safely, but you should cover the bottle with a cap. This does not apply to bottles left in room temperature.
Your baby’s bottle is good for 1 hour after you have given it to them. Do NOT store your formula after your baby already tasted some because baby’s mouth already introduced some bacteria into the formula liquid and making it spoil quicker.
How Does Expired Formula Look Like?
Common signs of expired powdered infant formula include clumping, discoloration or foul smell. If something doesn’t smell right, or you can see clumps or formula don’t risk it.
Expiry date and methods mentioned above don’t apply to toddler powder milk – for example, this one. Shelf life of powdered milk is much longer than baby formula.
Most manufacturers recommend using powdered milk (also known as dried milk) within 18 months to keep things safe, but in reality according to the USDA, powdered milk can be stored indefinitely up to around 2-10 years.
Can You Use Expired Baby Formula?
The expired baby formula might still mix well and look like it’s fine to use, but it will no longer have all the nutrients your baby needed for them to grow. It’s basically a useless liquid at this point and might cause some serious health issues or delays to your baby.
Before you throw away your old cans, there are certain things you can do with expired baby formula – as long it’s not mixed with water yet!
Animal shelters will gladly accept expired cans of baby formula for puppies and kittens.
Another use of the expired formula is using it in your garden. The nutrients inside baby food can serve as compost to help your garden flourish, and is considered a sort of pseudo-fertilizer that’s organic.
What are some expired formula side effects?
If you accidentally gave your baby some expired formula (it can happen, some stores might not remove it from their shelves by mistake), don’t stress too much. While certainly not ideal, it’s very unlikely that feeding an infant out-of-date formula will result in any illness (according to Enfamil formula makers).
Think about it when you eat something rotten – you don’t always get sick. While you should surely avoid feeding the baby expired formula, it doesn’t always mean they get sick. Don’t panic, but if your baby starts having diarrhea or vomiting call your doctor!
Shelf life of the mixture. How long can dry and ready mix be stored.
05/20/2021 Reading time: 3.5 min 121797
In order for infant formula to be safe, not to lose taste and useful properties, it must be stored properly. This applies to both the dry mix and the already diluted product. Although the conditions and shelf life are indicated on the original packaging, this information is brief and not always clear to inexperienced mothers. Let's deal with all the nuances of this topic in detail.
How to store powdered milk formula
- On a separate shelf. If your baby is formula-fed or mixed-fed, it's worth setting aside a separate shelf in your kitchen cabinet - or at least a significant part of it - for storing baby food packages and utensils for preparing it. So you will have everything in one place and always at hand, and the mixture will not come into contact with other products and substances.
- Store in a cool, dry place. The dry product is sensitive to changes in humidity and temperature, so do not put the whole or opened pack in the refrigerator. Due to the increased humidity, condensation will appear on the walls of the package, lumps will form in the mixture. You also need to keep the mixture away from the stove, microwave or oven, sink, direct sunlight. The optimum temperature is room temperature, not higher than +25.
- Do not overfill. It is better to keep the dry mix in its original packaging, with the carton box closed. So the dry mixture will be less in contact with oxygen, which means that oxidation, due to which the product deteriorates, will go more slowly. In addition, not all containers can be sterilized before pouring dry baby food into them. And on the surface of even clean, in our opinion, dishes, there are enough pathogenic microbes that will actively multiply in such an excellent nutrient medium as milk formula. And even more so, you can’t mix the leftovers from the previous pack with the mixture of powder from the new one or pour the fresh mixture into the jar where the previous one was stored. Convenience and economy are good, but the health of the baby is much more important.
- Sign when opened. An opened pack can be stored no longer than 3-4 weeks. The manufacturer always indicates the specific period on the packaging. To remember exactly when you opened a new pack, make it a habit to sign the date directly on the box or stick a sticker indicating when the package was opened. Of course, most often the pack ends in a few days and you do not have to store it for weeks. But sometimes this information can come in handy: for example, if a child is mixed-fed and the formula leaves a little, if you forgot about the package you started and opened a new one. It is impossible to use a mixture from a pack that has been opened longer than the period allowed by the manufacturer. Even if it has not changed in appearance, smell and even taste, this product is already dangerous for the baby, whose immune and digestive systems are still immature.
Dry infant formula expiration date
The shelf life of dry infant formula in undamaged original packaging is usually 1.5 years. Be sure to check if it has expired when you buy baby food. Stores, of course, are obliged to ensure that the delay does not stand on the shelves, but your child will have this mixture, so always control this moment.
The expiration date is not set arbitrarily. The manufacturer installs it after rigorous testing and can guarantee that, if properly stored throughout the stated period, infant formula will be safe and retain all its properties. That is, if you see that there are three days left before the expiration date, and your baby copes with a pack of formula in five, then it is better to look for a fresher product. But if there are several weeks before the specified date, and even more so 2-3 months, then be sure that this mixture will be exactly the same in taste, smell and consistency as it just came off the assembly line.
Throw away the mixture after the expiration date. Of course, it will not deteriorate immediately, as soon as the last seconds of the day are over, but it is possible to find out exactly when this will happen only experimentally. Considering that the health of the child is at stake, it is unacceptable to conduct such experiments.
How to store prepared (reconstituted) infant formula
The most precise instruction on this item fits into one word: no way. In order for the mixture to be exactly safe for the baby, it must be prepared immediately before feeding.
But there are situations when it is difficult or impossible to fulfill this requirement. For example, while you were diluting the mixture, the baby dozed off, or he mastered only half the portion and became capricious, or you urgently need to leave, and the grandmother, who stayed with the child, is afraid to make a mistake and asks to leave her ready-made food.
Storage advice for reconstituted formula
- If it is likely that the child will eat the prepared serving within an hour, you can leave it at room temperature, but be sure to discard after this time. For feeding the baby, this product will no longer be suitable.
- The diluted mixture can theoretically be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 hours. More precisely, this period can be found in the information on the packaging, as it may differ for different types of mixture. But such cases should be the exception, not the regular practice. Yet, both in taste and texture, food that has already stood in the refrigerator will be inferior to freshly prepared. In addition, when putting the finished mixture in the refrigerator, you need to make sure that there are no products with a strong smell, raw meat or fish, unwashed vegetables and fruits on the shelf nearby.
- Reheat the prepared mixture only once. If you don't have a dedicated bottle warmer, place it in a container of hot water, take it out and shake it occasionally to evenly warm the contents. Do not heat the mixture in the microwave.
- If you need to take ready-made formula for a walk or leave it for a relative looking after the baby who does not know how to breed baby food, you can get out of the situation quite simply. Measure the right amount of dry mixture and pour it into a sterile bottle. Pour the required amount of boiled water at the temperature required for dilution into a thermos. Before feeding, pour the water from the thermos into a bottle, mix.
So, when buying infant milk formula, you should remember:
- Store the formula in a dry place at room temperature, away from other products and household chemicals.
- Unopened infant formula has a shelf life of one and a half years under proper storage conditions. Throughout this period, the mixture retains its properties.
- Dilute formula milk immediately before feeding. In exceptional cases, you can store the diluted mixture at room temperature for about an hour and 3-4 hours in the refrigerator.
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How long is infant formula stored?
— The main criterion for formula feeding a baby is poor breastfeeding weight gain. Breast milk is replaced or supplemented with an adapted milk formula that is close to it in composition. The mixture is selected individually.
If the mother retains her milk, she will breastfeed her baby first, then formula. Moms love to change formula every two to three days, but this is one of the big mistakes. The mixture is prescribed for at least two weeks to see how the child absorbs it, whether he has rashes, problems with stool. With rashes, an allergic reaction, or prolonged constipation, you can change your diet earlier.
— What are the basic rules for storing infant formula?
- Any mixture has an expiration date and storage conditions indicated on the package, which are determined by the manufacturer. There are several general conditions.
- Store only at the temperature indicated on the packaging, with the lid tightly closed and out of direct sunlight.
- A jar or a pack with the mixture should not be placed in a room with high humidity or too dry air, near gas stoves and sinks in the kitchen, next to household chemicals.
- Mixture must not be poured from one package to another, or the remains of the mixture from one box mixed with the remains of another.
- A dedicated mix storage container must be handled and dried each time one mix is finished and another is planned to be refilled.
— If a mother takes a jar with her on a long trip, how important is it to maintain the correct temperature storage regime? It can be difficult.
- Mixture - the main food for the child. It is necessary to strictly observe the correct mode of its storage. It is better to take separate portions and bottles for each feeding individually and separately - a container of water or a thermos. In the future, it is necessary to mix the food immediately before feeding the child, of course, observing the temperature regime. Long-term storage of the dry mixture in an open container is not recommended: it changes its qualities, dries out.
- Is it necessary to store the mixture in a purchased jar or can I pour it into another container and take it with me? For example, on a trip for 2-3 days?
- After opening the can, the mixture is stored on average no more than 3-4 weeks. And wherever parents go with the baby, you need to take his food with you. You can take separate sachets or small packages, disposable bottles with an already diluted mixture, but this is not available and suitable for everyone. Another option is to pour a few servings into a sterile container so that the mixture does not come into contact with the air and other people who will dilute it. Of course, mom wants to always have the right bank at hand, but the child has her own interests - you need to adapt to him.
Storage conditions for adapted dry mix MAMAKO ® Premium
- temperature range - 0-25 ˚С
- humidity - up to 75%
- shelf life - two years in unopened packaging, no more than one month after opening
— Do manufacturers of infant formula indicate the actual shelf life or deliberately underestimate them?
- My opinion - of course, they don't underestimate. After the expiration date, the mixture is not used. We do not use expired drugs. Why risk with baby food and experiment on a child?
By the way, you should not use an expired mixture when preparing homemade cereals, pancakes and other dishes. This also applies to the diluted mixture that the baby did not finish. There is no need to store it, because even if the mixture stands at room temperature or in the refrigerator for only a couple of hours, the nutrients will be destroyed and its taste will change.
— What happens to infant formula in a jar after the expiration date?
— After the expiration date, beneficial bifidobacteria and microelements die. The mixture changes its formula and consistency. Most often, it becomes lumpy, does not dissolve so well. All this matters and is reflected in the digestion of the child.
- How long does the diluted formula keep? How to properly store prepared infant formula that the child has not eaten?
- When mothers ask this question, I often say: before giving a mixture that will stand for two or three hours, try it immediately after dilution and after this time. The mixture will be acidic. It happens that a child cannot suck out the full volume of food at once or sucks intermittently and rests periodically for 10-15 minutes - this is acceptable, for an hour the mother can supplement him with the same product. But the prepared mixture is not stored, the food is diluted and immediately given to the child.
- Can I store half-eaten formula in a bottle? Is it true that if a child touches a bottle, then the process of reproduction of bacteria begins in the mixture, and vitamins are destroyed when it is in contact with air for a long time?
- Having prepared food, we do not store it for a long time. It’s the same with the mixture - it’s just that the child has a slightly different diet.
It is true that as soon as the baby tries the formula from the bottle, the mechanism of bacterial growth will be set in motion. There is also a destruction of vitamins, but there is a certain supply of them in the mixture even after some time.
— How do you know if diluted infant formula has gone bad?
- A spoiled mixture changes the smell and taste. Infant formula is not a product to skimp on. If for some reason a mother is unable to breastfeed, bypassing nature, an artificial mixture is invented. But the mixture is initially a foreign protein, and the child reacts to it. Therefore, there is no need to additionally provoke the child's body by improper storage or dilution of the mixture.
— What rules should be followed when diluting infant formula?
- Be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for preparing and storing the mixture. Manufacturers adhere to their standards, but they are similar to each other:
- the mixture is prepared immediately before feeding;
- do not heat the mixture in the microwave;
- it is not recommended to pour fresh mixture to the remains of the old one;
- Do not store the prepared mixture and use the mixture that has expired.
- answers to other frequently asked questions about mixtures
It is always important to pay attention to what you feed your child - his health depends on it. Even before using the mixture, it is better to read the manufacturer's storage recommendations on the packaging in order to avoid mistakes.