By Mary Clare Jalonick
WASHINGTON: The Food and Drug Administration is laying out new requirements to ensure the safety of infant formula.
The rules announced Thursday are designed to make sure that formula manufacturers test their products for salmonella and other pathogens before they are distributed. They would also require formula companies to include specific nutrients, including proteins, fats and vitamins.
Most formula manufacturers follow these practices already, but the rules will ensure that new formulas on the market also comply with the requirements. It would also allow the FDA to better enforce those requirements.
“The FDA sets high quality standards for infant formulas because nutritional deficiencies during this critical time of development can have a significant impact on a child’s long-term health and well-being,” said Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods.
The rule would require manufacturers to provide data proving that their formulas support normal physical growth and that ingredients are of sufficient quality.
The agency said breastfeeding is strongly recommended for newborns but that 25 percent of infants start out using formula. By three months, two-thirds of infants rely on formula for all or part of their nutrition.
The FDA doesn’t approve formulas before they are marketed, but all formulas are required to have certain nutrients, and formula manufacturers must register with the agency. The FDA also conducts annual inspections of facilities that manufacture infant formula — far more often than the agency does inspections of other food facilities.