We frequently get phone calls from people who have had a bad experience with handrearing and would like to know, as far as possible, that it is not the food that is at fault. How do they do this? Well let us look at the checks that you can apply to the food that you buy.
1. Check the “sell by” date on the bag. It is surprising how often we simply take a bag, go home and use it without looking at the sell by date. If there is no sell by date on the bag don’t buy it! All responsible manufacturers will mark the sell by date on their products. It is also required by law for registered products. If it is not registered don’t use it!
2. When you open the bag smell the product, it should have a pleasant smell. How often does one do this? Probably never. When one has been using a particular brand for a long time one forgets to do this primary test. Although the product was in perfect condition when it left the factory, we don’t know what might have happened during transport and storage.
3. When you add the warm water for feeding, smell it again. If it smells different from previous successful batches, be suspicious.
4. When the food is mixed and ready for feeding, taste it. This may seem unnecessary after the smell test, but here we are looking for an acid taste that may not have a smell. Remember these things may be quite subtle. We have found that when a handrearing food is too acid in flavour the babies try to avoid eating it. If you are syringe feeding, acid food may cause the baby to regurgitate. The point is we are not talking terribly acid but just as acid as coca-cola.
5. Then when you have done all these things and fed the babies, they must be content and relaxed after feeding. After an hour they should not be agitated and crying for food while they have food in the crop. If this should happen then it usually means that the protein level is too high or the energy levels are too low. Check with the manufacturer.
If you carry out these simple tests and make these observations regularly, you will find that you can avoid feeding foods that might have gone out of specification during transport and storage.