Healthy living

Safe preparation and use of infant formula

Powdered formula

Harmful microorganisms such as Cronobacter sakazakii (previously known as Enterobacter sakazakii) and Salmonella occur naturally in the environment and might be present in many foods, including powdered infant formula.

While manufacturers have strict controls in place to minimise contamination, powdered infant formula is not sterile. Take care to prepare and store formula powder safely, to help reduce any risk of illness.

Preparing formula

  • Wash thoroughly hands and food contact surfaces (e.g. benchtops) with soap and warm water and dry thoroughly with disposable paper towel.
  • Wash and sterilise equipment such as bottles, teats and utensils.
  • Use sterile tongs to remove bottles etc to avoid re-contaminating the equipment.
  • Whenever possible, make a fresh batch of infant formula before each feed.
  • Prepare infant formula exactly according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Check temperature of infant formula before feeding infants by placing a drop of liquid on the inside of your wrist. It should feel warm.
  • Avoid preparing infant formula if caregivers are suffering illnesses with vomiting or diarrhoea, and take extra care with hygiene.

Storing prepared formula

  • If not used immediately, when made up infant formula must be stored in a sterilised bottle or container at the back of the fridge, in the centre where it is coldest.
  • Discard un-used infant formula after 24 hours if refrigerated.

Re-warming stored, made-up formula

  • Remove the prepared formula just before it is needed.
  • Re-warm by placing the container in heated, shallow water for no more than 15 minutes or use a commercial bottle warmer.
  • Microwaves are not recommended to rewarm formula as they heat unevenly and overheated parts of formula can burn the infant’s mouth.
  • Discard un-used infant formula after two hours at room temperature.  

Follow the instructions for the product.

Once opened, if the liquid infant formula is not to feed to the infant immediately:

  • Pour into a sterile food-grade container.
  • Store immediately in the coldest part of the fridge: at the back, in the centre
  • Re-warm by placing the container in heated, shallow water for no more than 15 minutes or use a commercial bottle warmer.
  • Microwaves are not recommended to rewarm formula as they heat unevenly and overheated parts of formula can burn the infant’s mouth.
  • Discard un-used infant formula after two hours out of the fridge.
  • Discard after 24 hours in the fridge. 

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222

Remember

  • Care is needed to prepare and store infant formula powder safely.

Acknowledgements

Information reproduced with the permission of the NSW Food Authority


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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