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Get the Scoop: Name-Brand vs. Store Brand Infant Formula

by Sandra Gordon

If you choose to use infant formula, one of the biggest downsides is how expensive it can be. If you buy name-brand formula, you'll spend approximately $2,000 on it during your baby's first year if you feed your baby formula without breastfeeding. What are parents on a budget to do?

Buy the Store Brand Formula. Not only does Store Brand Infant Formula offer the same complete nutrition as name-brand formula, it costs approximately 50 percent less, which can add up to a cost savings of $600 or more a year.*

Unlike other food, infant formula sold in the United States is highly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Perrigo Nutritionals, the largest manufacturer of Store Brand Infant Formulas in the world supplies 11 different infant formulas to 68 retailers in more than 35,000 retail locations across the country and around the world. Some store brands of formula you may be familiar with include Target's store brand (Up & UP), Wal-Mart (Parent's Choice™), CVS (CVS brand), Babies R Us (Babies R Us), Sam's Club (Members Mark™), Kroger (Comforts®), Toys R Us (Babies R Us), and Walgreen's Well Beginnings™ formulas. Whether it's Similac® or Walmart's Parent's Choice,** all infant formula must meet the same nutrients requirements specified by the Infant Formula Act, which, as you now know, standardized the nutritional content of infant formula.

While the offerings and store brand name vary by retailer, the formulations are manufactured to consistent quality standards for each category in Perrigo's ISO 9001:2015-certified state-of-the-art factories in Georgia, Vermont, and Covington, Ohio. Both facilities adhere to stringent FDA guidelines and use ingredients that are sourced in North America, including milk from Vermont dairies.

"We meet or exceed all FDA requirements and incorporate leading-edge manufacturing and quality control systems into our production systems," says Sean Walsh, vice president of operations at Perrigo's Vermont and Ohio plants. "Private-label [store brand] products are often and mistakenly regarded as inferior by consumers, but these misperceptions simply aren't true, especially when it comes to the area of infant nutrition. We believe we have advanced infant formula packaging with novelties that will transform the overall user experience for parents and continue to provide high quality formulas for world markets."

Because all infant formula is regulated by the FDA, however, Store Brand Formula isn't like other store brand products, such as ketchup or canned peaches. Even though Store Brand Formula costs up to half the price, it has to be equal to the name-brand in terms of nutritional quality, quantity and safety because it is considered a sole source of nutrition.

FORMULA FACT: It takes approximately 18 to 24 hours to make one batch of Store Brand Formula.

Perrigo Nutritionals is dedicated to providing safe, quality, nutritional and consumer products that consistently meet or exceed customer expectations and regulatory requirements. Conducting approximately 20,000 tests per month, Perrigo maintains numerous safety and quality certifications that appeal to its diverse customers. Store Brand Formula is tested regularly by a discriminating sensory panel of Perrigo quality assurance experts for taste, smell, and consistency. The sensory panel team tests one can of infant formula from every batch produced for physical integrity, aroma, and flavor. These super tasters ask: "Does the product taste and smell like it's supposed to?" The product should be sweet, creamy and milky.

Another panel meets to test the stability of the product, to make sure it conforms to the product's profile characteristics. The third panel of testers meets daily to give formula an oxidation score (the lower, the better). They also taste the name-brand competition. Of course, Perrigo thinks their formula tastes best to babies—and they're betting babies and moms and dads out there who taste their baby's formula—you know who you are—will agree.

Perrigo's manufacturing facilities are fully compliant with the Safe Quality Food Program, which certifies that a supplier's food safety and quality management system adheres to international and domestic food safety regulations. Their facilities maintain strict compliance with good manufacturing practices and are approved by Quality Assurance International to manufacture organic formula that is compliant with comprehensive USDA organic regulations.

Perrigo's factories are "green," too. For example, Perrigo's Vermont manufacturing facility sources ingredients locally from Vermont suppliers when possible. Additionally, the water used to make Store Brand Infant Formula comes from a nearby lake and the waste byproducts of manufacturing are circulated back into the environment and used as a highly effective organic fertilizer.

Store Brand Formula meets the nutritional and safety requirements of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for infant formula as well as the nutritional levels recommended by the U.S. National Academy of Science-National Research Council and the American Academy of Pediatrics. It's also certified kosher by the Orthodox Union (OU). This means Store Brand Infant Formulas may be consumed by all those who observe kosher dietary laws and many others who have special dietary requirements.

FORMULA FACT: An integral part of Perrigo's manufacturing process is performing 27 on-line quality inspections/operations checking 589 quality attributes.

About the Author

Sandra Gordon

Sandra Gordon is a consumer products expert, a writer, and a mother of two. She has appeared on NBC's Today Show and as a baby safety expert on The Discovery Health Channel's "Make Room for Baby." A Consumer Reports author, her latest book is Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear.

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