Formula: If it's so safe, why all the recalls?

Everyone says that formula is safe for babies and the next best thing to breastmilk. If this is really so, why have there been so many recalls? Is there a place I can go online to find out what formulas have been recalled?


Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Infant formula is safe to use, but that's not fail proof. Compared to other food products, infant formulas are more highly regulated than most. The safety of commercially prepared formula is supported by the FDA's nutrient requirements and by strict quality control procedures. These procedures require manufacturers to analyze each batch of formula for nutritional content. They also test samples for safety and stability during the shelf life of the product and code containers to identify the batch, making these records available to FDA investigators.

Any manufactured food product runs the risk of mistakes being made during the process. There is a system in place that can catch dangerous products and identify them before they get on the market. Regardless of the safety measures that companies take, there is always a chance that a formula will need to be recalled. Keep in mind that not all recalls are carried out because the product will cause harm, but may be because certain quality standards haven't been met. Recalls are a security measure that helps to assure you that formulas not up to standard will be identified and called back.

You can check most recent recalls at the FDA Recalls site.

If you have a general complaint or concern about an infant formula, the FDA is the appropriate agency to contact. You can reach them by calling FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. If you think your infant has suffered a serious harmful effect or illness from an infant formula, your health care provider can report this by calling FDA's MedWatch hotline at 1-800-FDA-1088. Parents may also report an adverse event or illness they believe to be related to the use of an infant formula. The FDA would like to know when a product causes a problem even if you are unsure the product caused the problem or even if you and the baby do not visit a doctor or clinic.

Even though infant formula is regulated and controlled, it is still important to emphasize that breastfeeding remains the safest method of feeding your baby. Doctors, as well as The World Health Organization, recommend breastfeeding as the preferred method of infant feeding.

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