2019 Novel Coronavirus Updates

Correcting the Record: Safe Handling of Expressed Milk Containers 4.8.2020

Rebuttal of Non-Evidence-Based Recommendations for the Safe Handling of Containers of Expressed Human Milk in all Settings During the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Pandemic


April 8, 2020. In response to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, a recent article in the Journal of Human Lactation called for the disinfection of individual bags of raw breast milk and bottles of donor human milk in milk banking and clinical settings.  This was despite statements from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that foodborne exposure is not a known transmission route. It is extremely unfortunate that these recommendations were created and published without the involvement of milk banking and food safety experts.


Marinelli and Lawrence (2020) recommend that all mothers, hospitals, daycares, and milk banks around the world apply a toxic and illegal concentration of sodium hypochlorite to infant food packaging (milk storage containers). Sodium hypochlorite (bleach) is regulated as a pesticide by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the EPA, “pesticide labels are legally enforceable, and all of them carry the statement: ‘It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.’ In other words, the label is the law.”


Marinelli and Lawrence recommend “high level disinfection of 0.5% solution, 1:10 dilution (approximately 5000 ppm)” for disinfection of plastic and glass containers of human milk. In contrast, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established the maximum allowable limit for ANY FOOD CONTACT ITEM at 200 ppm (FDA, 2020). The authors’ recommendation exceeds the FDA’s legal limit for food manufacturers, which warrants an immediate retraction of this article. 


HMBANA urges JHL and the authors to retract this statement, given violations of food manufacturing safety laws that could put vulnerable infants at additional risk. There are numerous other reasons to redact this publication, including lack of evidence of transmission through human milk and the long-term public health damage that may be done by positioning human milk as “risky.”


HMBANA will continue to publish updated guidelines regarding safe processing of pasteurized donor human milk as evidence about COVID-19 continues to emerge. 


A PDF version of this statement is available here

HMBANA Guidelines Update 4.6.2020

The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) is carefully monitoring ongoing developments regarding the outbreak of COVID-19 and how it relates to milk banking. Numerous safeguards are in place to protect the quality and integrity of every bottle processed, including strict donor screening, validated pasteurization, and third-party microbiological testing. All of HMBANA’s 29 nonprofit milk bank members are required to meet specific guidelines as a criterion for membership. HMBANA’s “Guidelines for the Establishment and Operation of a Donor Human Milk Bank” provide evidence-based direction to support the screening, handling, and distribution of a safe, optimal protocol by its member milk banks.

Visit www.hmbana.org for the full HMBANA Guidelines Statement 

A Temporary Practice Change 3.25.2020 
In compliance with the Oregon and Washington state executive order to stay at home, as well as to ensure the safety of our donors and reduce traffic in hospitals and clinics we are temporarily suspending the use of community and hospital based milk drops. We still welcome donations from current milk donors via a safe touch-less donation pick up system from Vancouver to Eugene. We will also be providing prepaid shipping boxes to any current milk donor. Please call Northwest Mothers Milk Bank at 1-800-204-4444 to schedule a milk pick up or to order a shipping box. Learn more about our Milk Drop Sites. 

We will continue to update our website, Facebook, and Instagram page. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC continue to be the best and most up to date information about pumping and breastfeeding during this time. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to our Donor Screening team. 

Updated Statement as of 3.16.2020

Northwest Mothers Milk Bank is committed to assuring the safety of our employees, recipients and milk supply.  As always, our goal is to protect milk by keeping our staff healthy and our workspace clean and free of pathogens. We will continue to process and dispense milk to the fragile recipients in our region


As we follow the emerging information about COVID-19, our policies will remain flexible and responsive.  Beginning March 16, 2020, we are temporarily suspending tours, volunteer programs and student activities. 


Northwest Mothers Milk Bank will continue to screen new donors and receive milk donations from approved milk donors.  Please check our website for the current milk Drop Sites available in your community as some Milk Drops are experiencing temporary restrictions.  Please contact us for a prepaid shipping container if you prefer to ship your milk directly from your home. 


Breastfeeding offers the best protection against many illnesses. Breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to follow the CDC guidelines for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding.


Our donor screening staff are Board Certified Lactation Consultants and are available to answer your questions and address your concerns about breastfeeding your baby.  You are welcome to contact them by phone or email: 800-204-4444 or milkdonor@nwmmb.org


We look forward to resuming our normal operations, but until then, please stay safe and be kind.  We are all in this together!

As of 3.1.2020

Northwest Mothers Milk Bank (NWMMB), along with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), is closely monitoring the evolving situation regarding the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. NWMMB remains dedicated to providing safe donor human milk to infants in need throughout the Pacific Northwest region. Screening criteria for milk donors are rigorous and designed to protect the incoming supply of donated milk.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has now provided interim guidance for women who are confirmed to have COVID-19 or are persons -under-investigation (PUI) for COVID-19 and are currently breastfeeding. Click here to read CDC's recommendation for breastfeeding mothers.

Approved milk donors who have milk ready to donate may contact NWMMB to request a shipping box be sent directly to your home in lieu of using one of our hospital-based Milk Drop partners during this time. Please call us at 800-204-4444 or 503-469-0955 or email to milkdonor@nwmmb.org.

For additional information, including tips on how to stay healthy, please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov

Human Milk Banking Association of North America statement on coronavirus

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p: 1.800.204.4444

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Office Address

15875 SW 74th Ave. 
Tigard, OR 97224


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Friday: 9:00am - 3:00pm

Saturday & Sunday: Closed

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© 2015 Northwest Mothers Milk Bank
NWMMB is a community based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon.

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