Decanting an Enteral Feed ( Adult ) - Standard Operating Procedure for

Publication: 20/06/2013  
Next review: 30/04/2022  
Standard Operating Procedure
ID: 3355 
Approved By: Trust Clinical Guidelines Group 
Copyright© Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 2019  


This Standard Operating Procedure is intended for use by healthcare professionals within Leeds unless otherwise stated.
For healthcare professionals in other trusts, please ensure that you consult relevant local and national guidance.

Please check the patients allergy status, as they may be allergic to Chlorhexidine, and alternative ( Providine iodine) solution will be required.
Be aware: Chlorhexidine is considered an environmental allergen.
Refer to the asepsis guidance.

Standard Operating Procedure for Decanting an Enteral Feed (Adult)

Background and indications for standard operating procedure/protocol

In some clinical situations, it is necessary to decant a liquid feed from one sterile container to another.
Where possible, a ‘varioline’ giving set should be used to stop unnecessary decanting into hydrobags or reservoirs. Where this is not possible the following guidance for decanting should be followed.

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Procedure method (step by step)





Decontaminate hands

To prevent risk of contamination


Decontaminate trolley using detergent wipes and gather equipment

To ensure you are working from a clean surface


Wash hands and put on non sterile gloves and apron

To prevent risk of contamination


Check against prescription and ensure the feed is in date and intact.
Open sterile container of feed

-If using scissors to open feed pack ensure they are sterile, disposable and single use

-If opening a foil lid ensure an aseptic non touch technique (ANTT) is used

-If opening a tin, ensure the rim is cleaned before opening with 2% chlorhexidine and 70% alcohol wipe. Clean for 30 seconds and leave to dry for 30 seconds

-If opening a glass bottle ensure the bottle top and bottle opener are cleaned with a 2% chlorhexidine and 70% alcohol wipe as above



Sterile scissors will prevent contamination of feed pack

To prevent contamination of enteral feed
Tin cans may harbour germs, or settled dust, this needs to be removed before decanting the feed

Bottle tops may harbour germs, or settled dust, this needs to be removed before decanting the feed


Open the packet containing the giving set and reservoir. Using an ANTT open the lid of reservoir/hydrobag



Carefully pour feed from the container into the reservoir. Ensure the feed does not come into contact with anything on its way into the reservoir

To prevent contamination of the feed


Hang reservoir onto drip stand, using pump prime the line of the giving set

As per manufacturers instructions


Label the feed with patient details including hospital number, feed details (name, volume, etc) and date and time decanted

To prevent feed being hung too long


Decontaminate hands and change gloves

To prevent contamination of enteral feeding tube from pump


Ensure feeding tube position checks are carried out and that correct position is confirmed

To ensure enteral feed is correctly administered


Using an ANTT, attach primed line to enteral feeding tube




All decanted feeds must only be hung for a maximum of 4 hours. After this time the giving set must be changed also, and the procedure repeated as above.
Feeds must not be topped up; instead the reservoir and giving set must be changed after 4 hours if decanted.

To prevent increasing microbial loads in enteral feed
To prevent hospital acquired infection

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Record: 3355

To standardise and optimise the procedure for decanting enteral feeds in the clinical environment

Clinical condition:

Any adult patient requiring enteral tube feeds

Target patient group: Adult inpatients
Target professional group(s): Secondary Care Nurses
Adapted from:

Evidence base

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Approved By

Trust Clinical Guidelines Group

Document history

LHP version 1.0

Related information

Not supplied

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