Correct Food Handling

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) set guidelines for the safe handling of all foodstuffs for those who prepare food and drinks for human consumption[1]. This is also important information for use in your own home especially when preparing foods and drinks for young children.

If you are using a bottle for expressed breast milk or feeding your infant formula, it is important to follow a few important safety steps to ensure you don’t contaminate through illness or unclean habits ensuring everything that your baby eats and drinks is kept safe.

One of the most important first steps is to make sure that you wash your hands with soap and dry your hands thoroughly before touching feeding equipment or making up a feed. Make sure you have adequately sterilised all parts of the feeding equipment before reusing for the next feed.

It is important to clean and disinfect all surfaces before using sterilised equipment. Formula powder is not sterile and when made up it can provide an ideal place for bacteria to grow. The water from the kitchen tap is safe for us to drink however infants can be susceptible to small amounts of bacteria. Using boiled water of at least 70°C , then cooled to make up the feed will reduce the risk of your baby becoming unwell with infections especially those causing diarrhoea. Any harmful bacteria present will be killed at this temperature.

Only make up one feed at a time as the risk of bacteria growing in formula increases with storage time, even if kept in the fridge below 5°C. To reduce the risk of injury, make sure your baby is not near the hot water when you are making up a feed.

Finally, it is essential to add the correct amount of formula to the boiled cooled water. Adding too much or too little formula powder to the measured amount of water can cause your baby to become ill. Excess powder makes the formula too concentrated and can cause dehydration and too little powder will mean your baby will not get enough nutrients.

Follow all instructions carefully ensures the safe preparation of your infants food and drinks[2].

[1] FSANZ, Health and hygiene responsibilities of food handlers.

[2] How to Prepare Formula for Bottle-Feeding at Home, World Health Organisation.

Special Thanks to Dietitian Kate DiPrima for her contributions to this article.

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