Does the Expiration Date Really Matter? Your Neocate Expiration Questions Answered

I am generally a thrifty person. Re-using or re-purposing old items, hunting for bargains, and attempting to stretch the use of my clothes, household items or even food I have purchased are all common practice for me. I might as well get the most enjoyment and use out of the things I have. My philosophy in life about finance is that you can always use more money than you have, no matter which socioeconomic category you and your family belong to. 

When I find something that is nearing, or just past, its expiration date the question “Does this expiration date really matter?” passes through my mind. I know many of you have the same thoughts and questions when it comes to Neocate. I get this question by phone or email us almost every week. And this makes sense to me. I know Neocate is likely an important part of your or your little ones’ nutrition, and often times the only nutrition or the only thing that works. And it is an important question.

Let me take a few minutes to answer those questions I hear often from parents just like you to help give you a better understanding. 

What Does the Expiration Date Mean?

The expiration date on any product is intended to be the last date when the product should be used. Many times you will see this noted as the expiration date, as it is on the bottom of your Neocate cans with “EXP” followed by a calendar date, or as the “use before” and “best before” date as it is noted at the top of our Neocate Splash drink boxes. 

Many people are surprised to learn that expiration dates are not generally federally required on most foods. In fact, infant formula is one of the only items required to have a “use by” date according to FDA regulations. When a date is included, it is required to have a full calendar date including the month, day and year according to the FDA. Some states do have requirements for dating of foods, although those requirements would be unique to that particular state. 

How Are Neocate Expiration Dates Determined?

Here at Neocate, we put customer safety first. We want to ensure your loved ones receive the nutrition they need to grow and thrive when living with food allergies and related conditions. We keep this in mind when determining the expiration date for Neocate, and actually test our Neocate over the shelf life under a variety of conditions to determine the expiration dates for all of our Neocate products, not just our infant formulas. 

  1. The nutrients in the product should meet the nutrient levels on the label throughout shelf life.
    This is probably the most important factor. Some nutrients, particularly vitamins, naturally break down over time. Because many individuals use Neocate to provide all or most of their nutrition, it is very important that the nutrients in the product meet the levels indicated on the label. Your healthcare team takes this information into consideration when advising how much Neocate you or your loved one should consume, so we conduct testing under a number of conditions to ensure the nutrients will hold up throughout shelf life and through the expiration date.
  2. The packaging should protect the product throughout the shelf life.
    This is another factor considered when companies such as Nutricia determine the expiration date. The durability of the packaging materials should protect the quality of the product over the recommended shelf life. We want to ensure that the cans or drink boxes remain sealed and keep the Neocate inside safe until the expiration date.

  3. The product quality should be good throughout shelf life.
    Neocate quality is also an important factor. Many ingredients naturally break down over time, some faster than others. This can affect the look, smell and taste of the product. As you may know, taste and smell are particularly important to some little ones. For that reason, we regularly test Neocate products to ensure the quality is maintained through the expiration date.

How Do I Know if My Neocate is Expired?

This is a question that I get quite often. With all of the information printed on Neocate products, it is not surprising that many of you wonder this. The expiration date can be located on the bottom of every can of Neocate. You will find that the expiration date is the full calendar date with a month, day and year after the letters “EXP”. The expiration date is usually the first item listed, but always has “EXP” in front of it. Other dates you might notice is the date of manufacture, which is also a full calendar date and has the letters “MFD” or “MAN” in front of it. The expiration date is also printed on the outside of every case of 4 Neocate cans.

On Neocate Splash drink boxes you will find the expiration date noted on the top of each drink box. It is the first date printed, and you will see a printed key just above the date with the “use before” and “best before” dates noted on the key. You may also notice that we list the date as a full calendar date with month, day and year all included. The expiration date is also printed on the outside of every case of 27 Neocate Splash drink boxes.

What Happens If I Use My Neocate After the Expiration Date?

This is a question that I am asked nearly every time someone calls or emails to discuss our expiration dates. With all the factors that we consider when determining the expiration date, we do not test what will happen if someone takes Neocate after the expiration date. This is just something we would not do as we put you and your loved one’s safety first here at Neocate.

We cannot recommend or advise using any of our products past the expiration date, even if it’s the day after. If you’re considering using Neocate past the expiration date, we suggest asking your healthcare team for their advice or direction. Share the information in this post with them so they understand how we set expiration dates. That information can help them discuss the decision with you.

What questions do you have about Neocate & expiration dates? Let us know in the comments below so we can answer your questions.

-Kristin Crosby

Last updated July 23, 2018

Published: 12/17/2016
Rob McCandlish
Hi Kristen, we're not aware of any reports of harm when infants consume recently expired formula. When we hear from parents they've often accidentally used recently expired formula for a few days, or want to know about using recently expired formula just until they can get fresh formula. You're right, we can't recommend it, but it seems unlikely that recently expired formula would make an infant physically ill (like vomiting or diarrhea). Since formula is often the only source of nutrition for infants, it’s very important the nutrients are precise. That's why taking formula with too-low levels of nutrients for a long period of time poses a risk. Hope this answers your question!
While I realize that you do not recommend, nor do you test the effects of giving an expired product, if Neocate Infant DHA/ARA was consumed for a couple days before realizing it was expired, has anything been reported as to what has happened to little ones? Can it cause actual harm? Or is it just not recommended because the nutrients degrade?
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