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How Long Can Formula Sit Out?

Posted in Food Safety on July 31, 2022

If you accidentally leave formula sitting out, you may wonder if it is still safe to feed your baby. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prepared infant formula can sit out for two hours before spoiling. However, this two-hour rule only applies to bottles that are not heated or touched by a baby. If heated or fed to your baby, the formula must be used within one hour.

How Long Is Formula Good for in the Fridge?

If you’ve decided to prepare your baby’s daily batch in advance or you’re trying paced bottle feeding, untouched prepared formula can be stored in the fridge for 24 hours. Therefore, it is best only to prepare the amount of formula you will use that same day and not overdo it. Open containers of ready-to-feed formula can be stored in the fridge for up to 48 hours if your baby hasn’t drank from them.

What Happens to Formula When It Is Left Out?

If left out at room temperature, prepared infant formula will quickly spoil as harmful bacteria multiply. Any formula that remains in the bottle after feeding should also be discarded because the baby’s saliva can cause bacteria to grow. The longer formula is left at room temperature, the greater the risk of infection if consumed. If your baby contracts a foodborne illness, it can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases, dehydration. Additionally, their illness will be more severe than how an adult would be affected, and dehydration, especially, can be very dangerous for a baby. If you believe a person or third party was responsible for your child’s illness, speak with a food safety attorney right away. You may be able to recover financial compensation.

How to Tell if Formula Has Gone Bad?

Here is how to tell if baby formula has gone bad.

Powder Formula

It is best to look at the best-by or use-by date on the tin of the formula. If the formula is not expired, but you are still unsure whether the formula is fine for use, look for these signs:

  • The powder is clumping or has hard lumps.
  • It has an off, musty smell.
  • The lid is bulging, or the seal is broken before it has been used.
  • There is discoloration or mold present in the powder.

If formula is not stored properly, it can go bad before its best-by or use-by date. In these cases, it is best to discard it and buy new formula to be safe.

Formula In A Bottle

Here are some signs to look for to see if formula in a bottle has spoiled:

  • The formula has an off smell.
  • You can see it is starting to separate.
  • There are lumps.

If you are unsure how long formula has been sitting out, the safest choice is to toss it.

Tips for Safely Preparing Infant Formula

Here are some tips on how to mix and store infant formula safely.

  • Sterilize bottles and nipples before using them for the first time by boiling them for 5 minutes or using a bottle sterilizer.
  • After each use, wash bottles and nipples in the dishwasher or with hot water and soap.
  • Wash your hands and sterilize the area where you will prepare a bottle.
  • Measure the formula according to the instructions for the size bottle you are making. An incorrect measurement can cause health problems for a baby.
  • Most powdered formula containers must be used within one month of opening. Write the date you opened it on the lid to help you keep track.