HealthDay News — A new rule that aims to ensure the safety of infant formula has been finalized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“While breastfeeding is strongly recommended and many mothers hope to breastfeed their infants, most infants in the U.S. rely on infant formula for some portion of their nutrition,” wrote the agency in a consumer update.

Nearly one million infants in the country are fed formula from birth, and by the time they are aged three months, about 2.7 million are given formula as part of their diet.

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The new rule only applies to infant formulas meant for healthy infants who do not have unusual medical or dietary problems, noted the FDA. The ruling includes:

  • Required testing for disease-causing bacteria Salmonella and Cronobacter
  • Demonstration that infant formulas support normal physical growth
  • Periodic testing for nutrient content in the final product stage, before entering the market, and at the end of the products’ shelf life

Many infant formula manufacturers have been producing safe products and have voluntarily applied many of the manufacturing practices outlined in the ruling, the agency noted. “But this rule will set in place federally enforceable requirements for the safety and quality of infant formula.”

“[The] FDA sets high quality standards for the safety and nutritional quality of infant formulas during this critical time of development,” wrote the agency.