Nature's One Blog

Ask the Dietitian - Is It Risky to Purchase European Formulas?

Oct 10, 2019 3:12:18 PM / by Diane, MPH, RD, LD - Director of Nutrition Services

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European formulas...consider the risks

You may have been hearing or reading about how great European formulas are as compared to U.S. formulas. Let's review what should be considered before going online to order these so-called "better" formulas...

So, why do you need to go online to order instead of purchasing them in your local supermarket? The reason - they are not registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)!  As a major U.S. on-line retailer, even Amazon is not allowed to sell these formulas.  You either have to go online to order from a possibly questionable distributor, buy from a third party who may have listed it on eBay or other resale sites, or have a friend or family member living in Europe mail the product to you.  What are the distribution lines and are they a safe way to ship formula across the “big pond”?   What about cost?  European formulas will be more expensive, not only to purchase, but also consider shipping cost.

But let’s concentrate on the hype saying these formulas are better than U.S. formulas.  Firstly, the manufacturing, ingredients, nutrients required, level of nutrients allowed, packaging, labeling, and sale of formulas is highly regulated in the U.S. by the FDA.  Regulations are specified in the Infant Formula Act

Quality assurance and much due diligence is required to ensure U.S. manufacturers of formulas make safe, clinically effective, and nutritionally sound products.  The U.S. regulations even deal with the recall of products.  This then begs the question: How would consumers purchasing a European formula by various means know if the product was recalled and for what reason? There are no notifications of serious recall issues. Is this worth the risk of illness to a child?

Another safety check required by the Infant Formula Act is the requirement to print on each can of formula specific directions on formula preparation.  Many European formulas are printed in the language of the country of manufacture.  Label information is often not in English.  If you do not understand the other language and have no way to have the label information translated into English, are you sure you are preparing it properly with the right amount of powder to water?  Improper formula preparation is a health risk and could cause illness.

Advocates for use of European formulas claim “Biodynamic Organic Farming” in Europe is better than the organic standards used in the U.S.  Make a visit to a family operated organic dairy farm.  I believe you’ll find the farm practicing the highest standards and the dairy herd to be quite content and treated with loving care.  The cow’s also graze on grass pastures. Is German or Dutch grass better than organic grass grown in a dairy state like Wisconsin?  I think not!

Another area marketed by proponents of European formulas is the composition or ingredients in U.S. formulas.  I’ll agree that many U.S. formulas contain ingredients that I personally do not like such as algal and fungal sources for DHA and ARA fatty acid, palm oil, corn syrup, or sugar (sucrose).  Look at some of the ingredients used in the European formulas…palm oil, fish oil, fungal source of ARA.

So, are European formulas better than U.S. formulas?  My answer is “NO” for several reasons.  If you want the prestige of saying you spend lots of money to obtain European formulas and you believe they are superior, that is a choice, but I personally like the safety, cost, reliability, and mode of distribution of U.S. formulas.

For the latest on the recent seizure of mislabeled HiPP Infant Formula being shipped to the United States from Germany, click here.

- Diane

**For specific medical care and nutritional advice on product usage, please see your healthcare professional

10/29/19: A Message from Nature's One

Nature's One appreciates the interests and concerns contained in the responses to this post.  Please know we read your responses and discuss at all levels of Nature’s One.    

We can all agree about safe and nutritious feeding of our children.  Whether or not the FDA sets the highest standards at every turn for all ingredients is nearly an impossible standard to expect.  Even so, the USA is recognized, and often leads worldwide, in food safety standards.  Further, the FDA is our regulating body.  It is our goal to be in complete compliance while finding ways to offer better nutritional or purity choices.  That is why we test ingredients for impurities such as metalloids, processing-aid chemicals, pesticides, insecticides and other contaminants that may impact a baby’s normal development. 

We believe the subject of Diane's post represents a real concern for parents wanting the best option for their child at a reasonable cost.   Many of the comments to our blog are complaints regarding ingredients, regulatory lapses and formula.  These complaints were addressed by Nature’s One over 22 years ago when first introducing Baby’s Only Organic®, the first organic nutritional formula in the USA;  and the first organic plant-based formula in the world;  and further, now the first and still the only, formula to have certified organic DHA & ARA.  What could be more important than organic DHA & ARA, a fatty acid known for brain and eye development critical the first few years of life? This is perfect example of Nature’s One setting a higher standard in advance of FDA regulations.    

We also believe it is our responsibility to educate on issues related to parenting.  That is the reason for a multitopic blog.  Everyone has a voice and we encourage you to add your comments.  We also request you refrain from personal attacks, foul language or personal attacks; instead, focus on what matters most which is the nutritive care of our little ones.  

Thank you for your interest in Nature’s One products, rated the “Best of Class” by independent testing laboratory PureMarket (https://www.puremarket.com/c/baby/).  We hope you enjoy Diane’s blog and find the information and future blogs helpful along you parenting journey. 

Topics: Health, Advice, Dietitian Series, Dietitian

Diane, MPH, RD, LD - Director of Nutrition Services

Written by Diane, MPH, RD, LD - Director of Nutrition Services

Diane, MPH, RD, LD has been the Director of Nutrition Services at Nature’s One since 2005. She has over 25 years of experience in maternal and child nutrition and enjoys helping parents learn more about our products and answering any questions you may have about the nutritional care of your little one.