Baby Food

Baby FoodFederal regulations require a “use by” date on the product label of infant formula and the varieties of baby food that are under FDA inspection.  These products should be consumed by that date, and, until that date passes, these baby  food  products are required to contain the quantity of each nutrient described on the label. Formula must maintain an acceptable quality so that it can pass through an ordinary bottle nipple.  (If it is stored too long, formula can separate and clog the nipple.)


Dr. Denise Brochetti  (of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture) points out that, because the immune systems of infants and young children are not fully developed, they are more likely than adults to become sick from eating or drinking food  contaminated with harmful bacteria.  Therefore, it’s important for parents and other care-givers to practice good sanitary habits and to check formula, milk, and food to be sure there are no indications that it might be contaminated. Where infants are concerned, it’s especially wise to follow the oft-stated rule: When in doubt, throw it out.


Formula: Some Safety Tips


1.Wash you hands thoroughly before preparing formula and before feeding the baby.


2. There are three forms of baby formula:  powder and liquid concentrates, both of which  are mixed with water, and ready-to-feed (the most expensive choice). When using one that requires the addition of water, it’s generally safe to mix formula with cold tap water  (or non-sterile  bottled water) that has been boiled for 1 minute and then cooled (not lower than 158°F or 70°C).


3. Fill each bottle with just enough formula for one feeding since germs from the nipple may contaminate the contents.  Throw out remaining formula after a feeding or refrigerate it promptly and use it within 24 hours. If the formula you prepare is not being fed to the baby immediately, refrigerate it immediately.


4. Never heat formula (or milk) in the microwave.  It heats unevenly, creating “hot spots” that could burn the baby’s mouth. Although heating formula isn’t necessary for proper nutrition, you may want to heat formula that you take from the refrigerator.  The best way to do that is by placing the bottle in a pot of water  and heating it just until warm (room temperature). You can test the temperature on your wrist to be sure it’s not too hot.


5. Never leave a bottle in the crib with a sleeping baby.  Formula and milk  become unsafe to drink after they’ve been out of the refrigerator for 2 hours.


6. Generally, babies under the age of 1 year should be fed either formula or breast milk, not cow’s milk.  (Consult your doctor about the proper food for your infant.)  Giving a baby cow’s milk too soon can result in iron-deficiency anemia and bowel irritation. 


7. Freezing formula is not recommended.  It may cause separation of the formula’s components.


8. If you notice any changes in the formula’s color, odor, or taste, don’t feed it to your baby.


Commercial Baby Food: Safety and Quality Tips


1. The “use-by” date on a jar of baby food is based upon quality issues as well as safety.  However, it’s advisable to throw our jars past their “use by” date.


2. Make sure that the “circle of safety” button on the lid of a jar is down.  If not, throw out the jar or return it to the store for a refund.


3. Don’t feed the baby directly from the jar unless you plan to discard any leftovers.  Pathogens from the spoon will contaminate the jar.  It’s better to put the amount of food you think the baby will eat into a small bowl, and refrigerate the remainder left in the jar.  After the baby dines, discard any food left in the bowl.


4. Once the jar is open, follow this advice about how long to keep the refrigerated leftovers:


     strained meat and eggs:  l day

     strained fruits and vegetables: 2-3 days


5. Don’t heat jars of  baby food in the microwave.   Heat them in a pot of hot water.  Stir and then check the temperature to be sure the food is not too hot.


6. If the product looks or smells “funny,” throw it out.


7. Be especially careful to check baby food in pouches. If your notice any swelling, leaking, or other packaging problems, discard or return the product.  Swollen or leaking pouches could be contaminated with a pathogen that can cause botulism (a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition). There have been recalls of some of these products because of  concerns about possible bacterial contamination.




FDA 101 Infant Formula


USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Fact Sheets “Food Product Dating”


University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. “Food Safety: Keeping Infant Formulas and Baby Food Safe”


FDA. "FDA Issues Consumer Alert on HAPPYTOT Stage 4 and Some HAPPYBABY Stage 1 and State 2 Baby Foods"       


FDA "Plum Organics Voluntarily Recalls Select Batch ofApple and Carrot Portable Pouches Due to Potential Health Risk"

Baby Food Shelf Life
Commercial Baby Food, jars*1-2 years2-3 days
Handling Tips: 
* Refrigerate after opening. 2-3 days shelf life in refrigerator refers to the product after being opened.
Leftovers from baby food with meat or eggs should be kept only 1 day (24hours).
Boyer, Renee, and Julie McKinney. "Food Storage Guidelines for Consumers." Virginia Cooperative Extension (2009): n. pag. Web. 7 Dec 2009.

University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. “Food Safety: Keeping Infant Formulas and Baby Food Safe”

Specific Baby Food Products


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