Regulating baby formula

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - When you get something from the store, you assume it's fresh and fine to feed to your family. But that's not always the case.

Stores are allowed to sell food past its "use by" or "best by" date but that does not apply to baby formula. Experts say expired baby food products can lose their nutritional value and stores selling the products can receive a fine.

When was the last time you checked the expiration date on your baby's formula or baby food? Experts say you should be doing this as you pick it up from the store.

Ingesting expired products can lead to potential health effects for your baby and if you got it from the store that way financial implications for the market that sold it.

According to the California Retail Food Code, "...any retail food facility that violates this section is guilty of an infraction, punishable by a fine of not more than $10 per day for each item sold or offered for sale after the "use by" date."

Donna Fenton is the Environmental Health Director at Kern County Environmental Health. She and her staff conduct routine California Retail Food Code inspections checking the dates on baby foods. "Sometimes that may only be once a year depending on the market and depending on what they sell; sometimes it may two or three times a year. They'll go in and they'll go to where the food is being sold on the shelves and they check the labels on the baby food to make sure the store isn't selling expired baby food," said Fenton.

The Women, Infants and Children Program or W.I.C educates its 39,000 participants in Kern County on proper usage of baby formula."There are so many things that new moms and moms in general need to be on the lookout for: the brand of infant formula, what's in it nutritionally but another thing they should be on the lookout for is the use by date," said Chelsea Manning, Registered Dietician, WIC.

That use by date is a federal regulation advertised on infant formulas. W.I.C. says formulas will lose nutrients past the expired date."Those nutrients are so important to a developing infant that they wouldn't want to get something that has been expired or been on the shelf too long," said Fenton.

To report expired baby formula or baby food at your neighborhood grocery store, call Kern County Environmental Health at 321-3000.

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