New standards set for melamine

Reading time 2 min.

Two years on from China’s melamine-adulterated milk scandal, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation have laid down the maximum authorised levels of melamine content in food products.

These are 1 mg per kilo in powdered baby milk and 2.5 mg per kilo in other food products and foods intended for consumption by animals.

This is the result of work carried out by the Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Formed in 1963, this Commission draws up international food standards.

Laying down the maximum content level helps governments to differentiate between the inevitable low levels of melamine, which do not pose any risk to health, and the deliberate addition of it in poor value products.

It is therefore a matter of protecting public health while avoiding pointless impediments to international trade.

This level was established in accordance with human tolerance limits set at the WHO meeting in Ottawa in 2008.

Melamine is a chemical product used in many industrial processes, notably in the manufacture of plastics.

In 2008, the abusive use of melamine led to the contamination of more than 53,000 children, causing serious poisoning and the death of a number of infants in China.

And more recently, 76 tons of raw materials and melamine-adulterated milk were discovered in China. This was in early July 2010 … which shows that this fraud continues.

So it’s important to remain alert.

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