Feeding Formula

How To Tell If Powdered Formula Is Bad

In a bid to avoid wastage many of us eat certain foods which are beyond their best before date.

Although this clearly is not safe for certain foods like meat, it can be fine for items like bread and dried pasta.

So you may be wondering if there’s any flexibility regarding expiration dates for baby formula, and how to tell if formula has gone bad.

To avoid risking illness, baby formula should never be used beyond its best before date, and it should be consumed within 30 days of opening.

Clumping, separation, unpleasant odors or taste, and discoloration are all signs that powdered formula has gone bad.

Can Powdered Formula Go Bad?

Yes, just like a lot of other foods, powdered formula can go off.

Powdered formula has an expiry date that should be adhered to, but it can also go bad or spoil before it reaches this date.

Below are some of the signs to look out for to determine if your baby’s formula has gone bad.

How To Tell If Powdered Formula Is Bad

When it comes to your baby’s safety it’s always best to err on the side of caution, so if you notice any of these signs you should throw the formula away:

  • Past the expiry date
  • Opened for more than 30 days (more on this below)
  • Contents begin to separate
  • Clumping
  • Discoloration
  • Unpleasant odor and / or flavor
  • Your baby refuses to drink it

Can Powdered Formula Go Bad In Heat?

On the back of the pack there is likely to be storage instructions advising you to keep the lid closed tightly and to store the contents in a cool, dry place, and perhaps out of direct sunlight and extreme heat.

If powdered formula is exposed to very hot temperatures (over 130°F) for many days, then the quality of the product can become compromised.

Once the formula has been mixed with your chosen type of water and made up in your baby’s bottle, it can be stored at room temperature and should be used within 2 hours.

As a precaution, if you are out of the house in hot weather and want to take a made-up bottle with you (for example while on vacation), then it may be a good idea to store it in a cooler bag to keep the milk as fresh as possible.

It can then be heated just in time for your baby’s feed, or served cold – which is perfectly safe to do, but to many parents’ frustration some babies simply refuse anything other than a warm bottle!

A Woman on a Phone Call while Making a Baby Formula

Why Does Formula Expire After 30 Days?

Baby formula is subject to strict rules set by the FDA, so there’s a good reason why manufacturers state it must be used within 30 days of opening.

Once the pack is opened, moisture in the air slowly begins to break down the ingredients which leads to the growth of harmful bacteria.

It’s worth keeping in mind that this bacteria may not be visible to the naked eye and it may not have a noticeable smell, so that’s why the recommendation is to use or discard the formula within 30 days of opening.

Is It Safe To Use Expired Baby Formula?

Most experts agree that you should not give your child any baby formula which has past its expiry date for two reasons:

  1. It may not be safe and can harm your baby.
  2. It may have lost some of the nutrients which your baby needs for their healthy development.

If you think the formula was sold when past its use-by date, or is defective, then you should be able to return it from wherever it was purchased.

Can I Put Leftover Formula In The Fridge?

Once you make up a bottle of formula, it should be given to your baby within 1 hour, and discarded after 2 hours.

In your bid to avoid wasting any expensive formula, you may be wondering what to do with any remaining liquid in your baby’s bottle?

The answer is you should always throw away leftover formula after two hours.

Once your baby starts a bottle their saliva can contaminate the contents, so you should always throw away formula that is left in your child’s bottle once their feed has ended.

For safety reasons you should also only heat formula once, again to avoid bacterial growth and to prevent destroying nutrients.

How Long Can I Keep Formula Milk In The Fridge?

Once its mixed with water, formula can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

This is why many parents like making larger batches of formula and storing it in a pitcher in the fridge, because it enables them to do the mixing just once per day, and allows mom or dad to simply pour any formula into a bottle as and when needed.

If you do decide to store your child’s made-up bottle in the fridge, for piece of mind it’s worth checking your refrigerator is the right temperature, which should be 40°F (4.4°C) or lower.

So as long as your refrigerator is sufficiently cold, you can rest assured that formula will safely last for 24 hours in the fridge.

Refrigerator in a kitchen

Can You Freeze Formula

According to the FDA, freezing baby formula is not recommended.

This is because it can cause the separation between the fat and the rest of the mixture.

In addition, freezing can cause some of the nutrients to be lost or degraded.

Despite the recommendation from the FDA, a lot of parents do freeze baby formula, particularly because it can be effective in easting teething pain in babies and toddlers.

The argument for freezing formula states that although the taste and texture may be impacted, frozen formula is safe to consume, and the loss in nutrients is not significant provided you aren’t regularly giving your baby frozen formula.

So the decision will ultimately come down to what you are comfortable with.

How Long Is A Warmed Form Bottle Good For?

Babies don’t necessarily need to be given warm milk, so warming up a bottle is down to the personal preference of the parents and what your baby prefers or accepts.

But if you do warm your child’s bottle before each feed, you should give the milk to them within one hour of preparation, and discard any leftover milk after two hours.

This 2 hour rule applies not only to powdered formula, but also to concentrated and ready to serve options as well.

In Conclusion:

  • Baby formula tends to have an expiry date of 1 year from the date of manufacturing, and should not be used beyond that date.
  • Once opened, you should store in a cool, dry place and ensure the lid is tightly closed.
  • Some of the signs of formula that has gone bad include a foul odor or taste, discoloration, separation and clumping.
  • Once made-up, a bottle should be consumed within 2 hours, and the leftovers should always be thrown away.
  • Made-up bottles can also be safely stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
  • Freezing formula milk is not recommended by the FDA, so the ultimate decision on whether to do this is of course up to you.

See Also: Your Must Have Baby & Toddler Feeding Guide

Tori is mama to 3 year old Isabella and co-founder of Rockinbaby. She has a BSc in Psychology, is a certified yoga teacher and is a working mom. In her free time Tori loves cooking delicious foods and baked treats, entertaining and working out. Learn more about Tori here.

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