Checking dates on grocery products is a common habit when buying foods like dairy products, meats and eggs, but when was the last time you checked to see if your child’s infant formula or baby food had an expiry date?
A recent news story that aired on CBC reported that some stores are selling expired baby formulas, so if you aren’t checking expiry dates, it might be a good idea to start.
According to Health Canada, expiry dates are placed on foods that lose nutritional content over time. By law, products such as meal replacement formulas (adult and child) and infant formulas must have an expiry date on the product packaging. Foods that have gone past their expiry date may not be sold, nor should they be consumed.
Until an infant graduates to solid foods, formula is likely the only form of nutrition he or she is consuming if not receiving breast milk. Baby formulas are designed to provide babies with a balance of essential vitamins and nutrients needed for healthy growth. If the products have lost their nutritional value over time, the babies will not be getting what they need for proper development, or they might even become ill.
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Unlike expiry dates, best-before dates are meant for foods that have a shelf life of 90 days or less. The period before the best-before date indicates when the product is at its best in terms of being wholesome, fresh and nutritious. Keep in mind that the best-before dates assume that the unopened products have been stored in normal conditions. Once a product has been opened, it must be stored according to the manufacturer’s directions to keep it as safe as possible.
Checking for dates
Expiry and best-before dates are not found on the nutrition label where you would find information about the product, such as calories and sodium content. On infant formula cans, the expiry date will likely be on the top or bottom of the can in two lines of information. The top line has the manufacturing date (“MFG year month date”). The second line has the expiry date (“EXP year month date”). On baby food, you might find the information on the metal lid.
Best-before dates are not obliged to include the year because of the shorter lifespan of the product, although many manufacturers do include that information.
What if you’ve bought expired products?
If you find you’ve bought expired formula, bring it back to the store where you made your purchase to see if it will exchange it. If not, contact the product’s manufacturer. It should know if a store is selling its expired products, and hopefully it will replace yours.