Chinese Infant Milk Contamination Scare Spreads, FDA Issues Warning for Coffee & Tea Drinks in US

Two weeks after the growing scare in China over melamine-contaminated infant formula, and after being repeatedly assured that US food supplies are safe, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued is first recall for products growing out of the melamine scare.  On Friday, the FDA warned consumers about Mr. Brown instant coffee and tea drinks.  They contain a nondairy creamer made in China that may be contaminated with melamine.  FDA also warned consumers about the consumption of White Rabbit Creamy Candy.  New Zealand has found melamine contamination at high levels in the candy, and the candy has been reportedly exported to more than 50 counter.

Melamine-contaminated infant formula in China has sickened more than 53,000 infants and four have died.  Melamine in the body can combine with cyanuric acid and cause fatal kidney stores and other renal failure.

So what’s going on?  Melamine is added to pass quality checks and hide fraudulent dilution.  Melamine, like protein, is rich in nitrogen.  So, if inspectors are checking to make sure that dilution hasn’t occurred, they measure nitrogen content.  Adding melamine will fool the test.

Melamine doesn’t contaminate milk by accident – melamine isn’t water soluble so it must be mixed with formaldehyde or another organic solvent to dissolve it in milk. 

In an effort to protect our nation’s food supply, the FDA has been spot checking infant formulas and other foods sold in Asian markets that could contain milk-derived ingredients.  Milk derived ingredients include whole milk powder, non-fat milk powder, whey powder, lactose powder, and casein.  As of September 26, the FDA had not found any melamine-contaminated infant formula in the US.

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