In the wake of multiple recalls of infant formula in recent years, the federal government has finalized standards that will require manufacturers to test their products for nutritional content as well as possible exposure to germs and bacteria. Earlier this year the new guidelines were announced; they are based on two years' worth of research, during which time Gerber voluntarily recalled some formula because of a strange odor, and some brands of organic formula were found to contain high levels of inorganic arsenic.
While public health officials generally say breast milk is best for babies, they acknowledge that many infants get some or part of their nutrition through formula. The new rule, FDA said, is aimed at establishing so-called "good manufacturing practices" that many companies have already adopted voluntarily.
It also only applies to formula marketed for "for use by healthy infants without unusual medical or dietary problems," FDA said in a statement.
Under the regulation, companies must screen formula for salmonella, which can cause diarrhea and fever resulting in particularly severe problems for babies. They must also check for cronobacter, known to live in dry conditions such as powdered formula and cause swelling of the brain known as meningitis in infants.
While the FDA does not approve infant formula products before they can be sold, under the rule companies must also test their products' nutrient content and show that their formulas can "support normal physical growth," the agency said.
Image: Baby having a bottle, via Shutterstock