It was melamine last year that killed and sickened hundreds of U.S. pets after being deliberately added as a gluten substitute in pet food. It was melamine, an industrial chemical that looks like protein in standard food testing, that killed at least a handful, and gave painful kidney stones to tens of thousands, of Chinese infants. It was melamine that brought China's dairy industry to its knees over surprisingly widespread contamination in milk and feeds. It was melamine found in Chinese candy and soft drinks that caused a brief flare of concern before Halloween.
So U.S. parents can be excused for being alarmed at the news that melamine has been detected, for the first time, in U.S. baby formula.
The Food and Drug Administration found "trace amounts" of the industrial chemical in one sample of infant formula, and the manufacturer of that infant formula is not being revealed. But the FDA said the chemical represented neither adulteration nor contamination, according to Reuters, and it cautioned parents not to overreact, since infants need the nutrients in formula to maintain health.
The FDA, which only just opened its first overseas inspection office anywhere in the world in China, has pledged to hold foods at the border until they are proved melamine-free.
One possible way to avoid melamine is to choose organic foods, since one possible route for melamine contamination is through the use of melamine-based fertilizers, or via (illegally) melamine-laced animal feeds. Organic foods, which are held to strict standards and third-party inspections, are less likely to have these problems.
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