By Larry Seitz | October 9, 2008
The horror of children becoming ill, leading to death after consuming milk products in China this year, is but another black eye for exports from this country.
The unfortunate event was based upon the chemical addition of melamine, an organic chemical substance, composed predominantly of nitrogen.
The commercial uses of melamine are plentiful. When combined with formaldehyde, it produces a melamine resin. This organic substance has been used as the basis of plastics, adhesives, varnishes, as well as a cleaning product. Many applications are found in the home such as countertops, fabrics, house wares, glues, and flame-retardants. It is also a major component as a colorant used in inks and plastics.
In 2007, pet food was recalled after these products, exported from China, were found to have unsafe levels of granular melamine. This was found in the wheat gluten, a component organic food source. Reports uncovered these unsafe levels causing serious illnesses and deaths in cats and dogs. These higher levels were positioned inaccurately as falsely appearing increased protein.
Mainland China, a major producer of melamine had used this popular chemical polymer in feedstock and baby formula nationwide. It was an accepted additive that gave a false appearance in diluted or poor quality food products that the protein content was higher. In effect, by raising the total nitrogen content one assumed that the protein level had risen.
This year, in September, a scandal uncovered the adulteration using melamine added into milk and infant formula produced in China. Because of the high nitrogen content of melamine, it can give a false positive of protein content higher than it’s true value.
These altered dairy products produced kidney stones and renal failure among young children. By late September, it was reported that over 53,000 people had become ill. Subsequently, over 13,000 were hospitalized leading to four infant deaths.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has established safe levels of melamine for adults. It is hoped that the same consideration will be offered for the safety and health of children in the near future.
©Makayla Milk looks on with great interest knowing that she is one of the healthy SunPower Kidz™.