If you've made the decision to feed your baby using infant formula, it’s important to know the facts. All manufacturers of infant formula sold in the U.S. must register with FDA which sets standards to ensure the nutritional quality and safety of infant formula. Formula -- whether powder, liquid concentrate, or ready-to-feed -- can become contaminated during preparation and handling. So following safe food handling practices is vital to keeping your baby safe:
- Handwashing is the first step — don’t spread bacteria on your hands to your baby. Wash your hands often with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, especially before and after preparing formula.
- Prepare formula in a clean area to prevent cross-contamination when bacteria are spread from one food product to another.
- Sterilize bottles in boiling water before first use — after that they can be safely washed and dried in a dishwasher.
- Don’t sterilize nipples in boiling water or wash them in a dishwasher. Heat breaks down the latex in nipples, so wash them by hand with hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and air dry.
- It's usually safe to mix formula using cold tap water that's been boiled for one minute and cooled to body temperature just before feeding. Water that is not cooled can cause serious burns. Keep the water covered while cooling to prevent contamination with bacteria.
- If you use bottled water for formula preparation, remember that most bottled water is not sterile so follow the same boiling and cooling procedure.
- Use the exact amount of formula and water as directed on the label, mix only enough for one feeding, and prepare it immediately before feeding. Follow label instructions carefully. If a lot of formula is prepared and not properly refrigerated, bacteria can multiply to very large numbers. The more bacteria there are, the greater the chance for foodborne illness. Preparing formula in smaller quantities on an as-needed basis greatly reduces the possibility of contamination.
- Don't leave formula out at room temperature for more than two hours. Discard formula that's been left out longer.
- If you need to warm formula, the best way is to put the bottle in a small pan of water and heat it on the stove until body temperature. Shake the bottle before feeding. Never use microwave ovens because microwaving can heat the formula unevenly and cause hot spots to develop, even though the bottle and the rest of the formula remain cool.
- Don’t feed infant formula after the "Use By" date on the label. Manufacturers guarantee the nutrient content and the quality of the formula only up to the use by date. If you buy formula by the case, make sure the lot numbers and use by dates on the containers and boxes match.
- Follow the storage instructions on the container.
- Don't save unfinished formula. Bacteria from a baby's mouth can be introduced into the bottle during feeding and they can grow even if leftover formula is refrigerated.
- Freezing is not recommended because it may cause the formula’s components to separate.
Homemade and Counterfeit Formula
- FDA does not regulate recipes for homemade formula and does not recommend making formula at home. Errors in selecting and combining ingredients for homemade formula can have serious consequences for the health of infants.
- Counterfeit Formula products are sometimes diverted from normal distribution channels and relabeled to misrepresent quality or identity--altering the "Use By" date for example, or relabeling to disguise the true content. Always purchase infant formula from a licensed, reputable retailer.
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Whether you call it a hot dog, frankfurter, or wiener, it's a cooked sausage and a year-round favorite – especially during football season.
Before you grab your bun and favorite toppings, take a look at the questions and answers below to keep you and your loved ones safe while enjoying this fan favorite.
What do I need to know about preparing hot dogs?
The same general food safety guidelines apply to hot dogs as to all perishable products — "Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold."
After cooking hot dogs on the grill, keep them hot until served — at 140 °F or warmer. Keep them hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook. If you’re at home, they can be kept hot in an oven set at approximately 200 °F, in a chafing dish, slow cooker, or on a warming tray.
Is it safe to eat hot dogs right out of the package (unheated)?
Although hot dogs are fully cooked, those at increased risk for foodborne illness, such as pregnant women, should reheat hot dogs and luncheon meat until steaming hot before eating, due to the threat of listeriosis.
What is the safest way for young children to enjoy hot dogs?
For children younger than 4, whole hot dogs and other round foods can be a choking hazard. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that to prevent choking, cut hot dogs lengthwise or into very small pieces before giving them to children. If the hot dogs have a casing, remove it before cutting the hot dog into pieces for the child.
How long can you keep hot dogs?
- When you leave the grocery store with hot dogs, head straight home and refrigerate or freeze them immediately.
- If product has a date, be sure to follow it. If there is no product date, hot dogs can be safely stored in the unopened package for two weeks in the refrigerator; once opened, only one week.
- For maximum quality, freeze hot dogs no longer than one or two months.
- Never leave hot dogs at room temperature for more than two hours and no more than one hour when the temperature goes above 90 °F.
Can I refrigerate or freeze leftover hot dogs?
Yes, if they are refrigerated promptly after heating (within two hours; one hour if the temperature is above 90 °F), they can be safely refrigerated for three or four days.
For more information on the safe preparation and handling of hot dogs, check out this resource in English and Spanish:
English: Hot Dogs and Food Safety
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Have you ever opened a package from the grocery store to find that something wasn’t right about it, and then wondered who to call to report a problem? The company’s toll-free number, the grocery store that sold it, or someone else? If that product involves meat, poultry, or a processed egg product, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service just made it easier consumers to alert the agency to food safety problems, anytime of day or night.
The Electronic Consumer Complaint Form (ECCF), which became available on FSIS’s website this morning, will allow consumers to submit the important information FSIS needs to begin an investigation in just six steps. Consumers will be requested to provide details on: when and where the product was purchased; when and how the product was noticed; and how the agency can contact you for more information. Personal information is optional and will be used solely for the agency’s investigative purposes and product tracking.
I know how you feel when you find that something is not in the condition you expected, or worse, if something you bought and prepared has made you or your family sick. Some parents have to carefully read food labels to make sure allergens will not cause a reaction for their child. Now, if they suspect something is mislabeled, they can report the problem directly to USDA for appropriate investigation and action if it threatens public health.
Our food safety inspectors work hard to ensure the food supply is safe. However, hazards can enter the food supply at many points along the farm-to-fork spectrum where there aren’t any inspectors. ECCF is a new gateway to our existing Consumer Complaint Monitoring System, which allows us to crowdsource surveillance of the overall food supply. If you find or suspect that a product is mislabeled, contains an item or ingredient that shouldn’t be there, or if it has caused an illness or allergic reaction, it is crucial for federal public health agencies to know about it.
We’ve relied on reporting from state and local health departments and our own Meat and Poultry Hotline (888-MPHotline) until now, and ECCF will open up our availability to hear you 24/7. It will remove constraints like office hours and even human error that may have prevented us from receiving important details in the past.
If you have other food safety questions feel free to contact us at the Hotline (888-674-6854) or online at AskKaren.gov
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This entry originally appeared on the USDA blog.