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Toxic Milk Contaminated With Melamine
In China, milk products contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine have sickened more than 50,000 young children in recent weeks and created a spiraling government scandal.
Although countries across Asia have already pulled Chinese dairy products from supermarket shelves as a precaution, it is now clear that the danger could go beyond milk. Cookies, toffees and chocolates are the major concerns if eaten in large quantities. The problem is with the composite food products, which can be imported, even if they contain milk powder from China.
"Children who consume both such biscuits and chocolate" could ingest more than three times as much melamine daily as the European Food Safety Authority regards as safe. Levels above that could result in kidney stones, Ian Palombi, a spokesman for the Authority said.
What is Melamine?
Melamine is an organic compound that is often combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin, a synthetic polymer which is fire resistant and heat tolerant.
Uses for melamine include whiteboards, floor tiles, kitchenware, fire retardant fabrics, and commercial filters. Melamine can be easily molded while warm, but will set into a fixed form. This property makes it ideally suited to certain industrial applications.
It All Began With Pet Deaths
Prior to current crisis, Melamine became a topic of much discussion in early 2007, when veterinary scientists determined it to be the cause of hundreds of pet deaths due to pet food contamination. Pet owners report symptoms that are commonly associated with renal failure.
Melamine by itself is nontoxic in low doses, but when combined with cyanuric acid it can cause fatal kidney stones due to the formation of an insoluble melamine cyanurate. Melamine is described as being "Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Chronic exposure may cause cancer or reproductive damage. Eye, skin and respiratory irritant.¡±
The toxic dose is on a par with common table salt with more than 3 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. FDA scientists explained that when melamine and cyanuric acid are absorbed into the bloodstream, they concentrate and interact in the urine-filled renal microtubules, then crystallize and form large numbers of round, yellow crystals, which in turn block and damage the renal cells that line the tubes, causing the kidneys to malfunction.
Ingestion of melamine may lead to reproductive damage, or bladder or kidney stones, which can lead to bladder cancer.
A survey commissioned by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians suggested that crystals formed in the kidneys melamine combined with cyanuric acid, "don't dissolve easily. They go away slowly, if at all, so there is the potential for chronic toxicity. The toxic effects of melamine are cumulative, creating kidney stones that can in severe cases lead to kidney failure.
Sources: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; www.wisegeek.com
Picture 1: Melamine is an chemical compound that is often combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin
Picture 2 & 3: Uses for melamine include whiteboards, floor tiles, kitchenware, fire retardant fabrics, and commercial filters.
Why Melamine is used to adulterate the milk? This is because just like the protein in the milk, Melamine's chemical structure is also consist of Nitrogen.
Mixing with Melamine would lower the volume of milk powder used and also the cost.
Since Melamine is tasteless, therefore it is difficult to detect. Then, in 2007, it was determined to be the cause of hundreds of pet deaths.
Since early 2008, the number of Chinese children strickened with kidney stones has increased rapidly. As of Oct 2008, 53,000 children have been sickened.
In Sep 2008, Sanlu Milk Powder was found to be tainted with Melamine.
The Chronicle: 1. Sep 2008: New Zealand PM asks the Chinese government to resolve the issue.
2. 21 Sep 2008: Several products in Taiwan and elsewhere were found to have excessive levels of Melamine.
The consequences: The crystals formed in the kidneys. Melamine combined with cyanuric acid don't dissolve easily. They go away slowly, if at all, so there is the potential for chronic toxicity. The toxic effects of melamine are cumulative, creating kidney stones that can in severe cases lead to kidney failure. As a result, a life-long dialysis of kidneys becomes necessary.
As baby's organs are still relatively underdevloped and small and its major diet is milk, therefore, Melamine-tinted milk could cause major and rapid deterioration of kidneys.
Therefore, please avoid all the milk products from China as well as read the product label carefully. Also, be careful with all the processed products with milk content.
In Singapore:As of 9 October 2008, the AVA has detected melamine in three additional products imported from China. Two of the products contain milk as an ingredient while the third is meant for manufacturing use and is not available in the retail market. They are
Cadbury Choclairs - Blueberry Flavour;
Cadbury Choclairs - Coffee Flavour; and
Panda Dairy Whole Milk Powder (industrial pack).
Yi Li Choice Dairy Fruit Bar Yogurt Flavoured Ice Confection;
Dutch Lady Strawberry Flavoured Milk;
White Rabbit Creamy Candy;
Dutch Lady Banana Flavoured Milk;
Dutch Lady Honeydew Flavoured Milk;
Silang - House of Steamed Potato - Potato Cracker;
Ðì¸£¼Ç Puffed Rice Rolls - Butter Corn Flavour;
Ðì¸£¼Ç Puffed Rice Rolls - Cheese Flavour;
New Sshmallows Mallow Dippers - Strawberry Flavour; and
Silang - House of Steamed Potato - Potato & Tomato Cracker