Breast Milk v. The Communal Workplace Food Fridge

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Hey Compliance Warriors!

I recently received this question from a member and thought you all might benefit from the research. Enjoy!
We have an employee coming back from maternity leave who will be pumping breast milk for her baby… Is she allowed to put that breast milk in the common refrigerator where other employees keep their lunches?

Unless the co-workers feel weird about it, keeping it in the food fridge is fine. Breast milk is safe for human consumption and is not a hazardous material like blood or other body fluids. It’s even legal for mothers to share breast milk with each other. She will need to label the milk and make sure she follows CDC guidance for storage.

If anyone protests, tell her she is welcome to bring in a small fridge or cooler each day.

Where should I store my breastmilk? https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-home-work-and-public/breastfeeding-and-going-back-work#4

Breastmilk is food, so it is safe to keep it in an employee refrigerator or a cooler with ice packs. Talk to your boss about keeping your milk in an employee refrigerator if you think anyone will be concerned. If you work in a medical department, do not store milk in the same refrigerators where medical specimens are kept.

Label the milk container with your name and the date you expressed the milk. Try to keep the milk in the back of the refrigerator where the temperature is the most constant and coldest.

Here is the CDC guidance on storage. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/recommendations/handling_breastmilk.htm

Here is another credible source http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/p/cm/ld/fid=239

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Lisa Smith, SPHR, SCP

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