Promoting proper food handling and preparation for patient safety
What feeding risks are your patients exposed to?
Breast milk and formula provide babies with many beneficial nutrients, but improper handling of both can present potentially serious feeding risks.
Understanding powdered formula risks
Once opened, powdered formula containers risk exposure to moisture, foreign matter and oxygen. Use without proper hygiene may lead to bacterial contamination1.
Although they are rare, certain bacteria such as Enterobacter (E.) sakazakii can cause serious infection and illness in infants1.
Understanding breastfeeding risks
Everything breast milk comes in contact with outside the body leaves it susceptible to potentially harmful bacteria that can pose serious health risks2.
Certain processes, such as indirect breastfeeding and pump expression, can increase the chances of breast milk contamination if not done correctly2.
Teach parents how to reduce risks through proper techniques
Preparing breast milk
Make sure parents follow these protocols for safely expressing and handling breast milk3:
- Clean hands thoroughly with soap and water
- If using a pump kit, make sure all components are clean
- If thawing breast milk, always start with the oldest and never use a microwave
- If heating breast milk, don’t do it directly over the stove or in the microwave
Storing breast milk
Storing breast milk properly can help safeguard against contamination3:
- Clearly label breast milk with expressed date
- Store containers away from refrigerator and freezer doors to protect against unwanted temperature changes
- Immediately freeze expressed breast milk that will not be used within four days
- If traveling, breast milk can be stored in an insulated cooler with ice packs for up to 24 hours
Educate parents on correct formula preparation and handling protocols
Following these steps can help ensure parents are preparing formula as safely as possible1,4:
- Pick a designated preparation space and sanitize it thoroughly
- Wash hands well before preparing bottles and feeding
- Mix powdered formula with water from a safe source, and always measure water first
- Take extra precautions if a baby is younger than 3 months old, was born prematurely or has a compromised immune system
After preparing powdered formula, parents should feed immediately or cover and store in the refrigerator for no longer than 24 hours1,4:
- Label cups and bottles with important information (like date and time of preparation) for better traceability
- If possible, having a designated refrigerator for formula is recommended
Cleaning and sterilizing feeding equipment
Between feedings, it’s crucial for parents to properly clean and sterilize cups, bottles, pump kits and other infant feeding items.
Educate parents on the steps they can take to help prevent bacteria from contaminating breast milk or infant formula5,6:
- Separate and inspect all bottle and pump kit parts before placing in dishwasher or washing by hand
- Check with product manufacturer to ensure dishwasher safety, then use the “sanitize” setting for extra protection
- Wash hands before handling and storing cleaned equipment
- Don’t use a dish towel to dry equipment, as it may transfer germs
Whether fortifying breast milk or formula-feeding, safe preparation and storage are paramount.
With a wide range of infant formulas available and in-depth resources for preparation, Mead Johnson Nutrition always has the health and safety of your patients in mind.