The pandemomium over melamine is making me nuts. Prior to the discovery of melamine in milk, I didn’t even know what it was. In fact, weeks after the scandal broke out, I was still mispronouncing the word, sometimes saying “melanin” instead of melamine, and Sam would snicker and say, “Mommy, melanin is in the skin.” But I don’t mispronounce melamine anymore. It has become a household word.
We already know that melamine is added to food products to make the protein content appear to be higher.
First, there was Sanlu milk. Three weeks ago, Cadbury chocolates were found to contain melamine. And just an hour ago, China View reported that Sunflower Crackers Blueberry Cream Sandwich contain melamine in amounts over the allowable 2.5 ppm (part per million) limit citing findings of the Center for Food Safety. Yes, Sunflower crackers from the Philippines which are exported abroad as well as locally sold. And it gets worse. Even eggs were found to contain melamine.
I know that melamine had been detected in dried eggs from China. Dried eggs? Yes, made from powdered egg yolks for making noodles, bread and confectionary. That was reported in Japanese papers. And that’s the likely explanation why melamine was found in Sunflower crackers.
But now even raw eggs contain melamine.
From the same China View report:
The Center for Food Safety (CFS) said the sample of the Select Fresh Brown Eggs (Extra Large), produced by mainland-based Dalian Hanwei Chicken Farming Limited and sold in 6-piece packs, was found to contain 4.7 ppm (part per million) of melamine.
How can melamine get into raw eggs?
Well, let’s go back to the report from Japan.
Mitsui & Co said it was informed by the Chinese company on 6 Oct that melamine had been detected in feed for its chickens. The trading company then found melamine in all the three samples from eggs powder it imported from the company.
Figures, doesn’t it? If chickens are fed with feeds that contain melamine, it doesn’t sound so improbable that hens will lay eggs that contain melamine. So, that’s clear. Not only processed food can be contaminated with melamine — even raw food may contain melamine beyond the amounts set by authorities as safe for human consumption.
But what many (me included) don’t know is that melamine in food is nothing new. Most think that it all started with the pet food recall last year but according to Manila Times’ Dr. Romeo Quijano, melamine in food has a much longer history.
In 1987, it was shown to be present in coffee, orange juice, fermented milk and lemon juice, leaching from cups made of melamine resin. From 1979 to 1987, there was widespread melamine contamination of fish and meat meal in Italy and in 2004, there was a nephrotoxicity (kidney damage) outbreak in pets in Asia. [Melamine Poisoning: “Tip of the Ice Cream”]
Amazing shit, isn’t it? Makes you wonder what’s safe to eat these days.
Oh, by the way, are you still using melamine dinnerware?