What is Melamine?
Melamine is an organic compound, a base with chemical formula C3H6N6.
It is a white, crystalline powder, and is only slightly soluble in
water. It is originally used in fire retardants in polymer resins
because its high nitrogen content is released as flame-stifling
nitrogen gas when the compound is burned or charred.
What is melamine generally used for?
Melamine is widely used in plastics,
adhesives, countertops, dishware, whiteboards. But Milk product and
milk suppliers or manufacturers, are adding melamine to the milk
products to artificially inflate the apparent protein levels.
What are the different foods
that have been found containing melamine?
Melamine has been found in
Rice protein concentrate
Powdered infant formula,
Frozen yogurt dessert
Canned coffee drink
Candies and chocolates
All these products were most probably manufactured using ingredients
made from melamine-contaminated milk.
Why is melamine in your food?
Food product manufacturers and
suppliers are adding melamine to their products to artificially inflate
the apparent protein levels.
What harm does melamine cause to your pets?
Why is there renewed concern
about melamine adulteration in food and feed?
In September 2008, more than 50,000
cases of nephrolithiasis (and, in some instances, renal failure) had
been reported in China linked to consumption of this melamine
contaminated powdered baby formula. There have been
approximately 13,000 hospitalizations, and at least 3 deaths have been
confirmed to date. The vast majority of illnesses involved
children under the age of 3 years and no cases involved
adults. The results of an investigation conducted in China
indicated that Chinese-produced powdered infant formula was linked to
Test results conducted in China on samples of the powdered infant
formula showed that they contained a wide range of concentrations (0.1
ppm to greater than 2,500 ppm) of melamine
What are the limits of
melamine in food products ?
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
said last week that 2.5 mg of melamine per kg would not cause health
problems but added that any infant formula sold to the US must be free
European union, Hong Kong and New Zealand have also set a safe melamine
limit in food products of 2.5 mg per kg, though it has been lowered for
food consumed by children under 3 and pregnant or lactating women to 1
mg per kg.
China - The limits were set at 1 mg per kg for infant formula, and 2.5
mg per kg for other dairy products including liquid milk, according to
a joint statement issued by five government agencies including the
Ministry of Health
What is the allowable Total
Daily Intake (TDI) of melamine?
US FDA has published an interim
safety/risk assessment on melamine and structural analogues and has
established for melamine a tolerable daily intake TDI of 0.63 mg per kg
of body weight per day.
The European Food Safety Authority has published a provisional
statement and recommended to apply a TDI of 0.5 mg per kg of body
weight per day as tolerable intake value for melamine.
What are the methods available
for testing of melamine in food?
FDA recommends LC-MS/MS and GC-MS methods
for the detection of Melamine in food products. Our lab is capable of
performing both these analysis.
Rapid ELISA methods are also available for use as a screening method in
How much time does it take to
test for melamine adulteration in food products?
A sample can be tested for melamine
adulteration in as little as 1 day !
What harm does
melamine cause to you?
Melamine by itself is nontoxic in low doses,
but when combined with cyanuric acid it can cause fatal kidney stones
due to the formation of an insoluble melamine cynaurate.
Melamine is described as being "Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or
absorbed through the skin. Chronic exposure may cause cancer or
reproductive damage. Eye, skin and respiratory irritant.”
However, the toxic dose is on a par with common table salt with an LD50
of more than 3 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. FDAscientists
explained that when melamine and cyanuric acid are absorbed into the
bloodstream, they concentrate and interact in the urine-filled renal
microtubules, then crystallize and form large numbers of round, yellow
crystals, which in turn block and damage the renal cells that line the
tubes, causing the kidneys to malfunction.
The toxicity of melamine to mammals is low. Available publications
report the most sensitive value for oral 50% lethal dose (LD50) is 3161
mg/kg in rats.1, 2 The most recent reported no- observed-
adverse-effect-levels (NOAELs) are 63 mg/kg bw/day (13 weeks, oral with
feed, in rats); 240 mg/kg bw/day (28 days, oral with feed, in rats);
417 mg/kg bw/day (14 days, oral with feed, in rats); and 1600 mg/kg
bw/day (13 weeks, oral with feed, in mice).2 In addition, the most
sensitive calculated NOAELs for oral reproductive and developmental
toxicity in rats are 400 mg/kg bw/day (maternal) and 1060 mg/kg bw/day
(fetal), respectively.1, 2 The most commonly observed effects in animal
experiments where melamine was administered orally include: reduced
food consumption, body weight loss, bladder stones, crystalluria,
epithelial hyperplasia of urinary bladder, and lowered survival rate.
However, no kidney failure or clinical symptoms of kidney failure were
observed from these studies, including in a dog study.