Tip Sheets

Cornell experts offer tips amidst baby formula shortage

Media Contact

Becka Bowyer

Stores nationwide have been struggling to stock enough baby formula to meet demand for parents.

The following Cornell experts are available to discuss suggested alternatives and dangers of associated with consumption of raw milk, as the baby formula shortage drags on.

Kimberly O'Brien, professor of human nutrition at Cornell University, studies bone health in infants, children, and pregnant and lactating women.

In general, I would not advise replacing formula with goat’s milk or cow’s milk. These are not substitutes for human milk or formula.

For healthy babies (not on special formulas) parents may want to consider switching to other brands of formula that may be in stock – this should be okay. Parents may be able to locate formula from online sources, if not available in the local stores. But, if purchasing online, people should avoid purchasing formula from non-U.S. distributors and they should make sure that the formula is FDA-reviewed.

Anika Zuber Gianforte

Dairy Processing & Marketing Specialist

Anika Zuber Gianforte, a dairy processing specialist, is an expert in dairy product manufacturing and food safety systems.

“As the infant formula shortage continues, parents in difficult positions are faced with deciding what the best alternative is for their child’s nutrition. It is critical that parents understand the dangers associated with the consumption of raw cow, goat, or sheep milk.

“Raw milk does not offer additional nutritional benefits, nor is it safe for infants to consume. Potentially deadly bacteria including E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Campylobacter are commonly found in raw milk. Infants’ immune systems are not fully developed which puts them at an increased risk for developing serious illnesses as a result of consuming raw milk. Even raw milk from clean animals and farms can contain these harmful bacteria.

“It is also important to note that spoilage bacteria are not the same as disease-causing bacteria. Therefore, even if milk passes a ‘sniff test’, it does not mean the milk is safe to consume. Pasteurized milk goes through a heat treatment designed to kill these dangerous bacteria, and all pasteurized milk is tested for antibiotics.”

Martin Wiedmann

Professor of Food Safety

Martin Wiedmann, food scientist and professor of food safety, researches how to prevent and control foodborne diseases caused by bacteria as well as microbial food spoilage. 

Nicole Martin

Research Support Specialist

Nicole Martin, associate director of the Milk Quality Improvement Program, studies the transmission, control and detection of dairy associated spoilage microorganisms and pathogens. 

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