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We've all seen the posts floating around Facebook the past few years—close ups of pried open sippy cup tops with disgusting amounts of black mold growing in them. And many of those parents are wondering if the constant ingestion of the mold is what led to their kids seemingly nonstop colds or respiratory illnesses. Now there's another round of photos going around—specifically about the Tommee Tippee brand of sippy cups—horrifying new parents all over again.
After seeing multiple Facebook posts about the potential mold, Laura Green of Forsyth, Missouri, literally sawed the lid open of her 19-month-old daughter's Tommee Tippee cup only to discover copious amounts of black mold inside. Green tells CNN the she immediately washed the cup after each use by hand with hot soapy water and removed all the parts each time. Basically, she felt there was nothing more she could have done.
Before we all start to panic and frantically saw open sippy cups, pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu tells Today that mold itself generally doesn't cause illness or symptoms. She acknowledges that individuals "who are sensitive or allergic to mold may experience nasal congestion or wheezing, [but] in general, mold creates more of an 'ick' factor than actual illness."
So how exactly does one avoid the dreaded mold that grows in those uncleanable parts of sippy cups like those anti-spill valves?
Missouri state extension food safety specialist Londa Nwadike shares with Today that, "It is best to take (the cup) apart completely—including opening the anti-spill guard top—and wash it in the dishwasher. Be sure to check it when it comes out of the dishwasher to be sure that all parts are clean, and if not, you may need to wash and scrub it by hand."
They can also be washed with a small brush by hand in warm, soapy water and Nwadike suggests sanitizing them by placing them in a container filled with hot water or a solution that involves one teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water for at least 30 seconds
And even if you think you're thoroughly cleaning them, sippy cups aren't meant to last forever. "As with any plastic product, you want to be sure that you throw it away if it gets heavily scratched or damaged as deep scratches are hard to clean properly," advises Nwadike. Especially if they were lost for a few days (or weeks) and you find it shoved under a car seat or the couch cushion with fluid still in it. (And who hasn't been there?) If you ever question whether you should keep it or not, just toss it.
Keep in mind that when you're shopping for sippy cups, obviously the fewer parts it has, the easier to will be to clean. And don't forget that sippy cups aren't meant to be used for a long period of time in your child's life as extended use has been linked to speech delays and dental issues. Most children switch to a straw cup around nine months to a year.
Tommee Tippee has since released a statement saying that they are developing a new cup with a two-piece valve that will be easier to clean. They are also making available see-through valves to replace current ones for any concerned parents who use the product in question.