Are All Infant Formulas The Same?

Switching to store brand formula Part 1

Switching to store brand formula is a cost cutting move that I'm considering; but before I do that I have to answer the question "Are all infant formulas the same?"

That's a loaded question. The brand names will want you to think no, and the generic manufacturers will want you to think yes. So what's the right answer? Stick around, this is going to be a long one

Let's start from the beginning. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed the Infant Formula Act into law. The crux of this law is that it stipulates nutritional standards for all non-exempt formulas being sold in the US. Formulas for special nutritional needs are exempt from compliance with the nutritional guidelines which are set by the Health and Human Services Department. Exempt formulas are those for any baby "who has an inborn error of metabolism or low birth weight or who otherwise has an unusual medical or dietary problem". The guidelines are really what defines the sameness or lack of in infant formula. 

The guidelines stipulate the minimum and sometimes maximum amount of nutrients to be got in each 100 kilocalories of the formula. A highlight of some of nutritional requirements are:

Protein: Between 1.8 to 4.5 grams. Note the range - so brand X can have double the protein content of brand Y and both are still "in compliance" Also note that the type of protein is not specified. It can be casein or whey. The guideline only stipulates that if a protein inferior to casein is used, the amount must be increased to make up for its inferiority. So formula A can have more protein than formula B because it's protein is actually of lower biological quality than B's.
Fat: Must make up 30-54% of the calories
Iron: 0.15 - 3.0 is the range. Note that the upper range is 20 times the lower range. That's a lot of margin to play with
Vitamin A: 250- 750
Vitamin D: 40 - 100 
Do you catch my drift? These ranges leave manufacturers with a lot of room to manuver and that's where the answer to the question is. Are all infant formulas the same? NO but in the eyes of the law they are equal. Equal but different. Kinda like fratenal twins.

Am I going to switch? I'm still on the fence. If I do make the switch and my girls have an adverse reaction, I will have a motherlode of guilt so.... Let's just say I'm not done with my research yet.

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