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Monday, November 17, 2008

Melamine is still in our foods

A year and a half ago, I said pretty much all I wanted to say about cheap imported food ingredients -- avoid them. It's too easy to sneak in powdered melamine scrap in place of vegetable protein powders, isolates, and concentrates, or powdered milk or eggs. Too easy to replace glycerine with antifreeze. This means avoiding all the processed foods made with these ingredients, too. You can't know where they came from. And the FDA has just blocked the import of all milk products from China, along with pet and laboratory animal feeds.

Hong Kong and South Korea are turning away eggs and egg products because they are contaminated. It isn't clear whether the powdered eggs rejected by South Korea were directly contaminated, or if they were simply came from chickens fed contaminated feed. The levels of melamine in the flesh, milk, or eggs of an animal fed contaminated feed are likely to be much less than the levels of food ingredients directly contaminated with melamine.

productcontamination level
Sanlu milk, reconstituted~360 ppm
Recalled 2007 pet food60-70 ppm
Recalled Chinese vegetable proteins>70 ppm
Egg powder, South Korea.1ppm - 4 ppm
Hong Kong eggs3.5 ppm

The FDA says 2.5ppm is the level of concern, except for in baby formula where none (or 25ppb, the limit of detection) is tolerable. This is based on evidence that 50ppm is tolerable (from animal studies?), up from a 2007 LOC of 194ppb to 450ppb, based on a TDI of .63 mg/kg/day, with a "100-fold safety factor".

Using the EU's TDI of .5mg/kg/day, the WHO concludes that the LOC for milk is 25ppm -- 10 times as high as the FDA's LOC.

How about a nice home-made Chipotle-Squash soup instead?