Nurturing/ Teaching Courses
Melamine Poisoning in Children
Dr Alex Tang
Melamine resin or melamine formaldehyde (also shortened to melamine) is a hard, plastic made from melamine and formaldehyde by polymerization. This plastic is often used in kitchen utensils and plates, often called melamine wares. It may also used as table lining such as formica. Being fire resistant, it has been made into fibres of fire resistant clothes that firemen use.
Aside from common commercial uses, melamine became a topic of much discussion in early 2007, when veterinary scientists determined it to be the cause of hundreds of pet deaths, because of pet food contamination. Prior to these reports, melamine had been regarded as non-toxic or minimally toxic. However, because of the unexplained presence of melamine in wheat gluten added to mass-produced dog and cat foods, it is the most likely cause.
Time magazine 17 September 2008 mentions “the material — in powdered form — has also come into use by certain unscrupulous food companies as a cheap and abundant filler substance for products ranging from livestock feed to pet food — and now, apparently, to baby formula. In some tests used to determine the nutritional value of a foodstuff, melamine shows up as a protein — so manufacturers can use the compound to make their products appear more nutritious. Melamine is not toxic, but inside the body it can cause kidney stones and renal failure.” The FDA database concurs.
Another Time report 16 September 2008 states that “On September 17, Chinese Health Ministry authorities announced that over 6200 babies had fallen ill, many developing kidney stones, from drinking milk made from toxic powder. At least three have died, and more than 50 remain in serious condition. Officials have said the number of victims could climb, the China Daily reported. Chinese authorities say the milk powder, produced by Chinese dairy giant Sanlu Group, was contaminated with melamine, a chemical used in making plastics. Melamine has been illegally added to food products in China to boost their apparent protein content.” The company started recalling its product on 11 September 2008, a too little, too late to save those who have died and countless others who will suffer kidney problems now or in the future. It was suspected that the company has received complaints about their milk in December 2007.
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