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Canning -- Miscellaneous

Do you have any information on how to make homemade baby food?

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From a safety point of view, babies (older than six months) and toddlers can eat almost any food that would be prepared for adults. Begin with the four Fight BAC! principles. These principles apply to the preparation of food for all age groups. Then emphasize some of the unique preparation practices that need to be specifically implemented for the high-risk population of babies and toddlers.

Preparation: * Never use home canned foods because there is a greater risk for foodborne illness if these products are not properly processed. * In place of commercially canned baby foods, use commercially canned "adult" foods. Preferably you should use the low sodium or the lower sugar products. * Never feed raw animal foods to infants, including raw milk, meat, or fish. Some population groups believe that we should not pasteurize milk because it destroys the "beneficial" properties of the milk. Therefore, they endorse feeding raw milk to babies. * Never feed honey or corn syrup to babies (12 months or younger) because they are at a grater risk for infantile botulism.

Handling jars of baby food: * After opening a can or jar of baby food, label it with the child's name and the date and time it was opened. * Refrigerate un-served portions in the original can or jar. * Throw out unused baby food within 36 hours after opening. Throwing food out one day after opening is even safer. * Observe the "use-by" date for shelf-storage of unopened jars of baby food. * Keep a permanent marker and masking tape in the kitchen to make labeling easy to do. * Serve baby food from a dish, not directly from a jar or can, to prevent contamination. Throw out the uneaten food served to the baby. The baby's saliva, transferred from the spoon to the food, can contain harmful bacteria.

Sterilizing baby bottles: * Sterilizing kills all bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Sanitizing does not kill all parasites. Parasites could be a cause of foodborne illness. * Take apart the bottle. * Wash the bottle, nipple and ring in warm soapy water. * Rinse thoroughly with water. * Cover the bottle, nipple and ring with boiling water and continue boiling for five minutes. * Remove from water with sanitized tongs and air dry on a clean, dry rack. Tongs should be sanitized using the immersion method for sanitizing (1 Tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach per one gallon of warm, not hot, water). * When completely dry, cap the bottle and store in a clean cupboard. Never cap bottles while still wet - water in the bottom of the bottle could support the growth of mold. * Pacifiers and teething toys should also be sterilized daily.

Formula: * Add formula only to sterilized bottles. Bottles that have not been sterilized might be contaminated. * Never add new formula to a half-filled bottle of formula. Bacteria and viruses in baby's saliva could be in the old formula and contaminate the new formula. * Refrigerate prepared bottles of formula and use within one day. Some harmful bacteria grow at refrigerator temperatures.

Opened cans of formula: * Cover opened cans with a clean lid or plastic wrap. * Label the can with the date the can was opened. * Refrigerate and use within two days or by the manufacturers' stated use time, whichever comes first. * Feeding time should last no longer than one hour. * Throw out leftover formula found in the bottle after the feeding.

PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, NC State University in July 2004

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