Mom told milk can't be in fridge at work

Posted at 7:27 AM, Mar 13, 2017

Mia Birdsong is a Lansing mother who chooses to breastfeed her child and understands the benefits.

"I have been breastfeeding my son for approximately 6 months now," Birdsong says.

Birdsong has worked at the Hope Network Neuro Rehabilitation Facility in East Lansing, for over two years .

She says she has always stored her breast milk in a Ziploc bag at work, and took the time to make sure it was away from her co-workers belongings in the fridge.

Birdsong says the Hope Network told her that she could no longer store her breast milk in any of the refrigerators on campus because it was against OSHA Regulations.

"It was never a problem in the past, "Birdsong says. "I am placed in a situation where it is very disrespectful."

When Birdsong asked for other alternatives, the Hope Network suggested to her that she use a thermal container, or put it in the bio hazard refrigerator which contains blood and human waste.

"I don't understand why it is acceptable for breast milk to go in a
bio hazard container with feces," Birdsong adds. "Why is that the only option Hope Network is offering?"

We reached out to the Hope Network, and they released a statement :

"At Hope Network we fully embrace and support a woman’s right to breastfeed and have dedicated space among our statewide locations to accommodate that need. According to state health department regulations, we are required to label and date all items in refrigerators used by our patients when in an adult foster care home.

The staff member who came to you placed her breast milk in an unlabeled bag, which violates state health department regulations. We asked her to label all future breast milk per health department regulations. If she was not willing to label her breast milk for any reason, she would have the alternative option to place the breast milk in an alternative, non-patient refrigerator.

We never received a response from the staff member regarding the solutions we provided to her. However, if the employee remains uncomfortable labeling her breast milk to comply with state health department regulations, we are absolutely willing to add another refrigerator to the building she works in.

Hope Network has made it clear to this employee that we are fully supportive of her choice to breast feed, but our non-profit organization must comply with State Health Department Regulations. "

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) , told us that there's no specific law regarding breast milk storage.

LARA says there is an Occupation Health Standard Sanitation Rule (PART 474 -Rule 47424) that states food or beverages shall not be stored in an area exposed to a toxic material.

We did check back in with Birdsong before we went on air.

She told us that Hope Network brought out a new refrigerator for her so she will now have a place to store her milk.