Melamine In Infant Formula
A recent article by Britt E. Erickson in C&EN news, discusses the issue of having Melamine in infant formula. Melamine is an organic compound created in the 1930’s and has various uses such as making plastics, laminates, and even fertilizer. It is also one of the main chemicals used to make dishwasher safe materials. Uunfortunately, the chemical is used by many food companies as a cheap and abundant filler substance for things such as livestock feed, pet food, and now, baby formula. In various tests used to determine the nutritional value of food, Melamine shows up as a protein due to its chemical makeup, so many food manufacturers utilize it as a way to make their products seem more nutritious. When inside the body, Melamine can result in kidney stones and renal failure.
In September, there was a controversy in China regarding Melamine in baby formula. Over 1,000 babies were found to have kidney stones after consuming infant formula containing Melamine. In late November, after the Melamine scare in China, the US FDA declared that it could not establish a safe level of Melamine for infant formula. However, recently, the FDA had a policy reversal, where it stated that levels of Melamine below 1ppm do not pose a threat to infants. The FDA says that these levels are so low that “they do not pose a risk to infants.” After testing infant formula samples in the US, the FDA found formulas manufactured by Nestle Nutrition, and Mead Johnson to contain Melamine.
After reading the article, I was simply appalled by what I learned. Letting the FDA allow trace amounts of Melamine to be used in baby formula is simply absurd. I was especially concerned because the issue arose in China in September, yet the FDA approved small amounts of Melamine only after doing a few months of research. It seems that the risks are too high, especially after what happened in China. I think our FDA should take more caution and do more testing before taking such a risk with infants.