Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Melamine Found in US Infant Formula and Dietary Supplements

From the New York Times, last night:
Melamine Traces Found in U.S. Infant Formula
"The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that it had discovered the toxic chemical melamine in infant formula made by an American manufacturer, raising the possibility that the problem was more extensive in the United States than previously thought."

"[Melamine] was also discovered in several samples of dietary supplements that are made by some of the same manufacturers who make formula."
The FDA won't disclose the identity of the company that manufactured the melamine-contaminated formula and supplements. But, read below ...

From the Associated Press, last night:
FDA Finds Traces Of Melamine In US Infant Formula

Melamine, or its metabolite cyanuric acid (which, when they occur together, accelerate creation of kidney crystals) have now been detected in just about all brands of infant formula in the US:
"Three firms — Abbott Laboratories, Nestle and Mead Johnson — manufacture more than 90 percent of all infant formula produced in the United States."
The FDA did not voluntarily disclose the results of their tests. The Associated Press obtained their information by filing a Freedom Of Information Act request:
  • Mead Johnson's Infant Formula Powder, Enfamil LIPIL with Iron -- "readings of 0.137 and 0.14 ppm."
  • Nestle's Good Start Supreme Infant Formula with Iron -- "an average of 0.247 ppm of cyanuric acid, a melamine byproduct."
  • Abbott Laboratories Similac -- "company tests did find the chemical."
  • Nestle's Peptamen Junior medical food -- "showed 0.201 and 0.206 ppm of melamine."
  • Nestle's Nutren Junior-Fiber -- "showed 0.16 and 0.184 ppm."

How Much Melamine Is Safe In Infant Formula?

This is what the FDA said on October 3:
FDA Issues Interim Safety And Risk Assessment Of Melamine And Melamine-Related Compounds In Food
"FDA is currently unable to establish any level of melamine and melamine-related compounds in infant formula that does not raise public health concerns. In large part, this is because of gaps in our scientific knowledge about the toxicity of melamine and its analogues in infants, including:
  1. the consequences of the continuous use of infant formulas as the sole source of nutrition;
  2. the uncertainties associated with the possible presence and co-ingestion of more than one melamine analogue; and
  3. for premature infants with immature kidney function, the possibility that they may be fed these formulas as the sole source of nutrition and thus on a body weight basis experience greater levels of intake for a longer time than is experienced by term infants."
"There is too much uncertainty to set a level in infant formula and rule out any public health concern."
The Grocery Manufacturers Association interpreted this as meaning:
"It can be concluded [the FDA] will not accept any detectable melamine in infant formula."
The Associated Press is saying:
"It was not until the AP inquired about tests on domestic formula that the FDA articulated that while it couldn't set a safe exposure for infants, it would accept some melamine in formula — raising the question of whether the decision to accept very low concentrations was made only after traces were detected."
Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich) said, "the FDA should immediately recall any formula that has tested positive for even trace amounts of the contaminant." Unfortunately, (as readers of the Fanatic Cook are well aware) the FDA has no authority to recall. Any recall would have to be voluntarily initiated by the manufacturer.

The effects of chronic, long-term, low-level ingestion of melamine and its metabolites are currently not known.

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