Friday, October 31, 2008

If only China had COOL...

(Maybe it does, but I'm not sure). Considering how it seems anything faintly edible in China contains melamine, I sure hope our ag products exporters are working up a furious campaign featuring how little (as in zero) melamine we feed over here.
Chinese regulators are widening their investigation into contaminated food amid growing signs that the toxic industrial chemical melamine has leached into the nation's animal feed supplies, posing health risks to consumers.

The announcement came after food safety tests earlier this week found that eggs produced in three different provinces in China were contaminated with melamine, which is blamed for causing kidney stones and renal failure in infants. The tests have led to recalls of eggs and consumer warnings.

The reports are another serious blow to China's agriculture industry, which is already struggling to cope with its worst food safety scandal in decades after melamine-tainted milk supplies sickened over 50,000 children, caused at least four deaths and led to global recalls of goods produced with Chinese dairy products earlier this fall.

The cases are fueling global concerns about Chinese food. In Hong Kong, food safety officials announced this week that they would begin testing a wider variety of foods for melamine, including vegetables, flour and meat products. On the mainland, Shanghai and other cities are moving aggressively to test a wide variety of food products for melamine, including fish and livestock feed, according to the state-run news media, which has in recent days carried multiple reports on melamine in animal feed. [More]

I am not implying Chinese food processors are adulterating their products - I'm stating it.  By testing not for actual protein but for N (nitrogen) Chinese officials invited their food industry to cheat.  Our FDA is trying to stay ahead.
During the recent melamine outbreak, FDA officials suspect that melamine may have been added to infant formula to inflate protein levels cheaply.

In some sectors of the food industry in China, manufacturers are paid by the amount of protein in a product. Melamine costs about $1.20 per each protein count per ton, while legitimate protein costs about $6 per protein count per ton.

Melamine, which is used in some pharmaceuticals, dyes, glues and plastics, is normally not harmful to humans, but when it commingles with cyanuric acid, it becomes insoluble and can cause kidney failure.

"The suggestion is that some clever scientist used a high-quality melamine that did not have cyanuric acid," said Dr. Lutter. "It was only later that the melamine was commingled with the cyanuric acid."

But "forecasting economic infiltration is hard," Dr. Lutter said, and food coming across U.S. borders is shipped from countries with disparate regulatory requirements. [More]
It almost makes you nostalgic for the good ol' days when all we worried about was MSG in Chinese food.

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