Saturday, April 28, 2007

Update 1 on Melamine

It's now confirmed that some contaminated pigs went to market:
"Several hundred of the 6,000 hogs that may have eaten contaminated pet food are believed to have entered the food supply for humans, the government said Thursday."
- Report: Tainted Hogs Enter Food Supply
Melamine is a plastic used in the manufacture of flooring, cabinets, and food containers. (See photo.) I looked around for toxicity effects of melamine on humans but didn't find much. Now I know why:
"There is no scientific data on the health effects of melamine combined with the other compounds, said David Elder, director of enforcement for the FDA."
Based on that lack of data:
"The FDA and Agriculture Department believe the likelihood of someone becoming ill after eating pork from hogs fed contaminated feed is very low."
Virtual seers.

The same thing was assumed about the health risks of melamine and related compounds on cats and dogs. No, wait. They did find melamine had a diuretic effect on dogs at a dose of 125 mg/kg (mg of melamine per kg of dog body weight) back in 1945.

To place that 125 mg/kg amount in perspective, about 3100 mg/kg will kill a rat that eats it, and about 1000mg/kg will kill a rabbit if it's applied to its skin. Even if we humans didn't consume melamine accidentally, or in a contaminated food product, we regularly take in about 0.01 mg/kg every day just because we live in a melamine-contaminated environment.1

If melamine is truly as nontoxic as the USDA and FDA claim, why did cats and dogs die from eating it? How much melamine are we talking about here?

Here's a curious thing:
"Urine tests done on some of the 800 hogs now quarantined at a farm have tested positive for low levels of melamine." But... "According to the state veterinarian, none of the suspect feed was fed to the hogs. Federal tests on the feed have come up negative. The positive urine tests could not be immediately explained."
So, there's another source for this plastic in our livestock's feed? Other than imported Chinese "pet food" ingredients?

It makes me wonder what other potentially toxic chemicals we would find in our food supply if we chose to look.

You know that box on the federal income tax form 1040 where they ask you to check if you'd like $3 of your taxes to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund? Well, I propose a checklist be offered as a replacement, with a Food Safety Assurance Fund listed as one recipient. Check!
1 From International Programme on Chemical Safety: Melamine
Rat LD50oral = 3161 mg/kg.
Rabbit LD50dermal = 1000 mg/kg.
LD50 = Lethal Dose for 50% of animals tested.

Photo of melamine bowls from Cath Kidston, UK, who also sells them.

No comments: