One baby is dead, and others are suffering from painful kidney stones, apparently because a Chinese maker of powdered milk made its product with melamine -- the same toxic industrial protein substitute blamed for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. pets.
The Sanlu infant formula scandal is so far only known to have affected foods sold in China, but the Food and Drug Administration has warned that imports may have reached U.S. markets. Whether or not illegal imports are being sold in the U.S. -- it's possible, given that the Sanlu product was half the price of other brands on store shelves in China -- the news is being heard round the world because of ongoing concerns about the safety of Chinese foods, and the difficulties -- and acknowledged inabilities -- of the FDA to adequately police even legal imports.
Melamine was added to pet foods last year as a cheap substitute for wheat gluten that appeared to be protein in common testing. It led to the death of hundreds of pets, and the indictments of four people and three companies.
Here is the FDA advisory:
In response to reports of contaminated milk-based infant formula manufactured in China, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today is issuing a Health Information Advisory. This is to assure the American public that there is no known threat of contamination in infant formula manufactured by companies that have met the requirements to sell infant formula in the United States. Although no Chinese manufacturers of infant formula have fulfilled the requirements to sell infant formula in the United States, FDA officials are investigating whether or not infant formula manufactured in China is being sold in specialty markets which serve the Asian community.
The FDA is advising caregivers not to feed infant formula manufactured in China to infants. This should be replaced with an appropriate infant formula manufactured in the United States as mentioned below. Individuals should contact their health care professional if they have questions regarding their infants health or if they note changes in their infants health status.
The FDA began investigating the reports of contamination immediately and received information from the companies who manufacture infant formula for the American market that they are not importing infant formula or source materials from China. The following manufacturers have met the necessary FDA requirements for marketing milk-based infant formulas in the United States: Abbott Nutritionals, Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Nestle USA, PBM Nutritionals, and Solus Products LLC. Also, one manufacturer, SHS/Nutricia, Liverpool, England, markets an amino acid based exempt infant formula that does not contain any milk-derived ingredients.
We are asking state officials to work with the Agency to assist with the removal of any Chinese infant formula found on store shelves, and to warn members of the Asian community to avoid using Chinese manufactured infant formula.
It has been reported that a number of infants in China who have consumed Chinese manufactured infant formula are suffering from kidney stones, a condition which is rare in infants. The Chinese manufactured infant formula may be contaminated with melamine. Melamine artificially increases the protein profile of milk and can causes kidney diseases such as those seen in these Chinese infants.
FDA requires that all infant formula manufacturers register with the Agency and adhere to specific labeling and nutritional requirements. All properly registered infant formula manufacturers marketing infant formula in the United States undergo an annual inspection of their production facilities.
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