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Health Canada Reminds Canadians of the Proper Handling and Preparation of Powdered Infant Formula

Starting date:
February 10, 2010
Posting date:
December 27, 2012
Type of communication:
Information Update
Microbiological - Other, Affects children, pregnant or breast feeding women
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Important Safety Information, Contamination
General Public
Identification number:

Health Canada would like to remind Canadians of the proper handling and preparation of powdered infant formula at home to prevent foodborne illnesses in children.

Children, especially infants, are particularly vulnerable to foodborne illnesses. Unlike liquid infant formula, powdered infant formula is not sterile and requires proper preparation and handling before feeding your child. Scientific information shows that E. sakazakii can be present in powdered infant formula. When powdered infant formula is not prepared and handled properly, it can lead to severe disease in infants. While there are no recent cases of illness due to Enterobacter sakazakii in Canada, there have been approximately 120 recorded worldwide. By following these steps at home, you can help minimize your child's exposure to potentially dangerous foodborne bacteria such as E. sakazakii.


Before preparing the bottled formula for your child, you should wash your hands using soap and hot water, and clean and disinfect the preparation area. Make sure that all bottles, spoons, nipples, lids and other equipment are sterilized by placing the items into a pot of water and bringing it to a rolling boil for 2 minutes. If the items are not used immediately, you can remove the items from the pot and cover and store them in a clean place.

For premature and low birth weight infants under two months of age or immunocompromised infants

Always follow recommendations from your doctor or your health care professional. If you don't breastfeed your child, it's safer to use a sterile liquid infant formula. However, if you are using powdered infant formula, follow these steps:

  • To prepare powdered infant formula, bring the water to a rolling boil for 2 minutes. After cooling the water to 70°C (this takes about 30 minutes), add the powdered formula to the cooled water according to the instructions on the packaging. Make sure that the temperature of the water does not go below 70°C during the mixing period. Use a clean, digital food thermometer to make sure.
  • The powdered infant formula should be used immediately after preparation after having been cooled to the right temperature. Cool the bottle to between room and body temperature by quickly placing the bottle under cold running water or into a container of cold or ice water. Check feeding temperature by shaking a few drops of the formula onto the inside of your wrist.
  • In some cases, powdered infant formula cannot be prepared with boiled water cooled to 70°C because of potentially heat-sensitive ingredients, such as human milk fortifiers or formulas for special medical purposes. You should consult and follow the advice from your doctor or health professional before using these formulas.
  • Prepared powdered formula can be kept refrigerated for 24 hours. You should follow the re-heating instructions for prepared infant formula below.

Alternative for healthy, full-term infants

For healthy, full-term infants, you can use previously boiled water that has been cooled to room temperature to prepare powdered infant formula. It is best to feed your child immediately. However, the prepared formula can be kept in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Please see section below on prepared infant formula for tips on re-heating.

Prepared infant formula

When you are ready to use the prepared formula, re-heat the formula to between room and body temperature by placing the bottle in a bottle warmer or hot water. Check feeding temperature by shaking a few drops of the formula onto the inside of your wrist. If you re-heat prepared infant formula, you should feed your child immediately. All leftovers should be thrown out. Do not refrigerate and reuse re-heated formula again.

In all cases, once you've started feeding your child, the bottle should be used within 2 hours. All leftovers should be thrown out.

Health Canada continues to recommend breastfeeding your baby for at least the first six months after birth. Breast milk is considered the best source of nutrients for your baby and can help boost your baby's immune system.

For more information on preparing and handling powdered infant formula, please visit the Health Canada website.

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