Requires Registration, Accreditation of Milk Banks Providing Milk to NJ
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez to ensure the safety of donated breast milk delivered to health care settings in New Jersey was approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The bill would establish standards for human milk banks that donate milk to a hospital in the state, and for milk banks seeking to operate in New Jersey.
“Research shows that breast milk contains nutritional elements that are important to an infant’s health. For mothers who cannot produce it or have low lactation, breast milk sharing has become an increasingly common practice,” said Senator Weinberg. “This bill is part of the effort to ensure that milk provided to new mothers and, ultimately, to their babies is safe. It will establish uniform standards for human milk banks that are delivering milk to hospitals in the state, and for any banks that want to operate here.”
The bill (S-974) would require that human milk banks seeking to operate in New Jersey, or providing donated milk to hospitals in the state, be registered with the state Department of Health and accredited by the Human Milk Bank Association of North America, and thereby, adhere to the association’s requirements and guidelines for human milk banks. As defined in the bill, “human milk bank” means an organized service that provides for the selection of a donor of human breast milk, the collection, processing, storage and marketing of donated human breast milk and the distribution of donated human breast milk to a hospital for use by low birth weight babies or new mothers with delayed lactation, or directly to a parent, with a physician’s prescription order, who is unable to nurse, or is in need of additional breast milk to feed the parent’s child.
“The benefits of human breast milk as the primary source of food and nutrition for infants are well established. We want to be sure that when this product is provided to new mothers in the state, it is safe,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden). “This bill not only would implement oversight measures for human breast milk that is being used in our hospitals but would also establish guidelines and standards for milk banks going forward.”
The legislation would require the department to conduct a review every five years to determine whether the Human Milk Bank Association of North America continues to be the most appropriate accreditation authority for human milk banks and that its guidelines are proper and sufficient. Upon completion of a review, it would permit the commissioner, by regulation, to change the accreditation authority. In addition, the bill would require the department to inspect each human milk bank operating in the state at least once every five years. If the department’s inspection finds that a human milk bank is not in compliance with the requirements of the Human Milk Bank Association of North America, or a future accreditation agency, the bill would require the department to notify the accrediting agency.
DOH would be authorized to institute a civil action to enjoin the operation of a human milk bank whenever the commissioner determines that safety hazards exist or a milk bank is not complying with the provisions of the bill. Violators of the act would be subject to financial penalties.
The bill next goes to the Senate for consideration.