When it comes to mixing and storing formula, we’ve heard every question, usually more than once! A few months ago, we answered questions about mixing and storing Neocate products. This post was so popular that it helped spark additional questions from our Facebook followers as well as comments posted on our blog.
So here we go, Round 2!
Once Neocate formulas are prepared, how long until they go bad? Can I keep them longer in the fridge?
The important thing to remember is that our recommendations help to make sure that Neocate stays fresh and that it doesn’t have time to “go bad.” (Good Neocate is a nice guy; Bad Neocate is just plain mean!) “Going bad” is a nice way of saying that a food or formula sat around too long, and bacteria showed up and multiplied! This can make food or formula taste bad, smell bad, and possibly make you sick. Here’s a breakdown of the times we recommend:
24 hours – This is the amount of time that prepared Neocate powdered formulas can stay in the fridge, IF you put them in right after mixing. This also applies to Neocate Splash that’s been opened, but not if anyone has taken a drink directly from the container! If Neocate has been in the fridge longer than 24 hours, we recommend throwing it out.
4 hours – This is the amount of time that prepared Neocate powdered formulas (or opened or poured Neocate Splash) can sit out at room temperature. This can be either after being freshly mixed, or after being removed from the fridge. If it’s been on the counter at room temperature longer than 4 hours, throw it out!
1 hour – This is the amount of time that Neocate can be kept after someone starts to drink it. Like it or not, our mouths are full of bacteria that just love nutrient-rich formulas like Neocate. Once your baby, child, or you take a drink, start the clock and throw out what’s left after 1 hour. Safety first!
Can I make Neocate in advance and use it at a later time?
Sure! As long as you follow the rules above for storage times, you can prepare Neocate formulas in advance. We always recommend that freshly prepared formula is best, but we know it’s not always easy to mix it exactly when you need it. For further guidance, check with your healthcare team!
Note: We don’t recommend preparing Neocate Nutra - our hypoallergenic semi-solid - in advance, because the texture will actually become thicker over time AND thicker with refrigeration. However, the storage instructions for Neocate Nutra would be the same as for the Neocate formulas if your healthcare team is okay with the thicker texture.
Once I’ve mixed Neocate to store for later, do I put it straight into the fridge or do I need to cool it down first?
It’s best to cool the prepared Neocate quickly to get it below the “danger zone” at which bacteria grow best. Straight into the fridge for a bottle is fine, regardless of the water temperature used. That’s because small items will cool quickly in a fridge. However, if you mix a large volume of Neocate, such as for a full day, and store it in a large container, it will cool pretty slowly in the fridge. Here are two options:
- Use cold water to prepare the Neocate, so it doesn’t have much cooling to do.
- If you prepare the Neocate formula with warm or room temperature water, start by pouring it into the container you’ll store it in. Put the lid on. Then fill a large bowl or pot with ice water. Nestle the container with Neocate in the ice water. Rotate it every few minutes. This will cool it down quicker than the cold air in the refrigerator would. After about 20-30 minutes, it should be plenty cold, and you can move it to the fridge.
It’s important to note not to use hot water when mixing your formula.
(See what temperature water should be when used to mix Neocate formulas.)
What temperature should the fridge be when storing Neocate?
Ooh, good question! We actually don’t get this one very often. For storing anything perishable (food, leftovers, prepared Neocate, you name it), a refrigerator should maintain a temperature below 40° F (4° C).
Did you know that some spots in your refrigerator are colder than others? It’s true! In general, the door is the warmest part of the fridge. The coldest parts can vary based on the layout of the fridge (i.e. where the freezer and icemaker are).
Want a surefire way to know if your fridge is cold enough? Take it’s temperature! Place a cup of water in the fridge, add a thermometer, and wait a few hours. You can even move it around to different parts of the fridge to see the differences – just make sure you give the water a few hours to adjust to the new “climate.”
What is the best temperature for storing Neocate Splash? Can Neocate Splash drink boxes be stored in the refrigerator?
The best temperature for storing unopened Neocate Splash long term is room temperature. That’s because some nutrients don’t hold up well under heat, and some don’t do well in cold. So keep Neocate Splash away from sunny windows, air vents, hot appliances, and cold, drafty spaces. That goes for unopened cans of other Neocate products, too!
That said, you can put unopened Neocate Splash in the refrigerator ahead of time to cool down, such as for tomorrow’s lunch box. If it hasn’t been opened, we suggest you can keep it refrigerated for up to a week. This is because we just don’t know the effects that cold (but not freezing) temperatures over extended periods of time might have on levels of some nutrients. Remember though: If the drink box is open, it can only be refrigerated for up to 24 hours, but no more. And if someone has already taken a drink from the box, you’ve got 1 hour!
How should I prepare Neocate when going on a trip?
When you are going on a trip with prepared Neocate formula, follow these rules:
- Mix no more Neocate formula than you need in 24 hours - otherwise you’ll have to toss what's left!
- Keep it cold – below 40° F (4° C) – and store it for no more than 24 hours. That means you’ll need a well-insulated cooler and plenty of cold freezer packs or bags of ice.
- If you use powdered Neocate formula, take extra cans, just in case.
- If you use Neocate Splash, take extra drink boxes, just in case.
- If you use Neocate Splash, keep unopened drink boxes away from extreme temperatures. That means don’t throw it in the trunk in the extreme heat of summer or bitter cold of winter for long periods of time, like road trips.
- Check out this post about flying with Neocate for more helpful tips.
Can you store Neocate frozen?
We don’t recommend it. Why, you ask? Plenty of other foods can be kept safely in the freezer longer than they can in the fridge, so why not Neocate? The short answer to this question is: we don’t know. Okay, that’s not a very fair answer, and it’s not the whole truth! The mid-range answer is that freezing temperatures can affect Neocate’s quality in ways we can’t predict. Still want more information, or don’t believe us? Here goes…
Freezing temperatures (below 32° F, or 4° C) can affect some nutrient levels. Some vitamins just don’t hold up well under really cold temperatures, and home freezers can actually get very cold! Also, frozen Neocate that thaws may discolor and/or separate into different layers. Gray Neocate in layers is not appealing! We cannot guarantee nutrient content or quality of Neocate products when frozen, which is why we don’t recommend it.
That said, some recipes that call for Neocate products are frozen, and frozen treats can be downright delicious. Ask your healthcare team for advice before you prepare Neocate in any of these recipes, or any way other than as directed on the packaging or as we suggest above. Find more information about cooking with Neocate here.
Can I still use Neocate past the expiration date?
Nope! We absolutely don’t budge on this one. If you don’t like this simple, straightforward answer, you can read this post that spells out in detail why we can’t recommend using Neocate past the expiration date.
How do I ensure Neocate dissolves properly?
Like any powdered formulas, sometimes clogged nipples happen. Following these steps can help ensure that Neocate formulas dissolve well:
- In general, the warmer the water, the better the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in Neocate powders will dissolve.
- The warmest water you should use is 122° F (50° C) to ensure the nutrient levels are not affected. (Water that temperature is pretty warm, but not uncomfortbly hot is our best description without pulling out a thermometer)
- DO NOT use boiling water to prepare Neocate powders. While Neocate powders dissolve REALLY well in boiling water, it destroys a lot of important nutrients.
- Stir or shake vigorously for the best solubility.
- You can try allowing formula freshly mixed to "rest" for a few minutes and then give it another vigorous stir or shake.
- If you still have trouble after trying the above tips, give us a call at 800.Neocate to let us know!
Again, if we didn’t answer your question, check this post with other common questions to see if we cover it there. If not, we’re happy to help in the comments section below! What other questions do you have about mixing, preparing, serving, or storing Neocate?
You can trust me! I've worked at Nutricia as part of the Medical Affairs team since 2010! My job is answering Neocate questions, and if I don't know the answer to your question, I know where to get it! I'm also a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.