China Regulates As Melamine Scandal Grows

Melamine in Milk
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As the melamine scandal grows and creates global concerns about importing food products from China, the Chinese government is now testing a wide variety of food products for melamine, including fish and livestock feed. State run newspapers are calling for a full investigation into the use of melamine in food and animal feed.

Melamine, an organic based chemical that is widely used in plastics, adhesives, countertops and furniture, was originally found in milk and powdered infant formula in China. Presumably used to increase the protein content for State investigators, Melamine was used as an additive. When combined with cyanuric acid, which may also be present in melamine powder, melamine can form crystals that cause kidney stones. These small crystals can also block the small tubes in the kidney, causing kidney failure and death.

Over six thousand babies were sickened from tainted Chinese milk and several died.

In 2007, melamine contaminated animal food and was responsible for the death of a large number of animals due to kidney failure. As late as September 2008, baby zoo animals near Shanghai were sickened by tainted milk.

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Now melamine has been discovered in eggs from china, baked good products that contain powdered milk and candy. Cadbury chocolate, made in the Beijing factory, was found to contain more melamine than the city’s legal limit of 2.5 parts per million. The Center for Food Safety said that Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Hazelnut Chocolate Bulk Pack contained 56 parts per million, while Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Cookies chocolate contained 6.9 parts per million.

The continued finding of melamine-contaminated products has raised new concerns that many more Chinese exports are involved. Because melamine may have been intentionally added to animal feed in China, tainted chicken and fish and hog feed could result in poisonous meat and seafood.

The Chinese government got involved in the scandal in mid-September and has pledged punishment for those involved in adulterating food. They vowed to strengthen food safety measures and have recalled a large number of dairy products and eggs. They have ordered the closing of thousands of slaughterhouses and food factories but it may be too little too late in terms of limiting the suspicion worldwide that Chinese products are not safe.

As recently as 6/26/07, China released a white paper that claimed, “Chinese food products are exported to more than 200 countries and regions. Statistics show that quality rating of Chinese food exports is very high. China has a strict regime in place to monitor and supervise food exports. Ninety nine percent of Chinese food exports meet applicable standards which is in parallel with the rate of US food exports to China, even a little higher.”

New findings continue to show that despite the Chinese national campaign to raise food safety standards and reassure consumers, the mainland’s broken down food safety inspectorate is unable to catch and report lapses in standards.

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