(In which we look again at the prevalence of melamine in various food chains, now confirmed to include human babies of practically all countries that use infant formulas from multinational companies like Nestle and Bristol-Meyers Squibb.)
The 2008 Chinese milk scandal is a food safety incident in the People's Republic of China involving milk and infant formula, and other food materials and components, which had been adulterated with melamine. With China's wide range of export food products, the scandal has affected countries on all continents. By the end of September, an estimated 94,000 victims have been claimed; four infants have died from kidney stones and other kidney damage. The chemical appeared to have been added to milk in order to cause it to appear to have a higher protein content. In a separate incident, watered-down milk resulted in 13 infant deaths from malnutrition in China in 2004.
It was only a matter of time before something similar was detected in 'safe US infant formula'. The time is now. Predictably, not only do the manufacturers get away scot-free, but they have no less a champion than the regulatory agency supposed to work on behalf of the taxpayers and their interests.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defended the safety of infant formula sold in the United States on Friday despite tests that found the chemical melamine in one brand and a related compound in another.
The amounts found are far less than levels found in infant formula in China earlier this year and "do not raise public health concerns," said Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "The domestic supply of infant formula is safe."
FDA tests found "very low levels" of the industrial chemical melamine in Nestle's Good Start Supreme with Iron formula, Sundlof said during a conference call. Low levels of cyanuric acid were found in Bristol-Myers Squibb unit Mead Johnson's Enfamil Lipil with Iron.
Now, to top it all, the FDA has decided (after having declined to do so earlier this year) to declare that the safe limit for melamine in formula is 1 ppm, conveniently over the limits to which it has been detected in the formulas.
Less than two months after federal food regulators said they were unable to set a safety threshold for the industrial chemical melamine in baby formula, they announced a standard that allows for higher levels than those found in U.S.-made batches of the product.
Food and Drug Administration officials on Friday set a threshold of 1 part per million of melamine in formula, provided a related chemical isn't present. They insisted the formulas are safe.
The setting of the standard comes days after The Associated Press reported that FDA tests found traces of melamine in the infant formula of one major U.S. manufacturer and cyanuric acid, a chemical relative, in the formula of a second major maker. The contaminated samples, which both measured at levels below the new standard, were analyzed several weeks ago.
The FDA had stated in early October that it was unable to set a safety contamination level for melamine in infant formula.
So, had the formulas had say 50 ppm of melamine, the FDA would have obligingly decided that 60 ppm was a safe limit.
What next? Ads to persuade you that 'Melamine makes the brain sharper, like DHA but better!'
Never mind that according to world bodies like the FAO and WHO:
Addition of melamine into food is not approved by the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius (food standard commission), or by any national authorities.
Now that the USFDA has gone ahead and approved it, there will be other governments lining up to grant approval as well- the simple solution to the issue of poisons in food is to legalize the poison, as we all know!