Thursday, November 27, 2008

FDA Finds Trace Levels Of Melamine In US-Made Infant Formula.

FDA Finds Trace Levels Of Melamine In US-Made Infant Formula.

The FDA's discovery of trace amounts of melamine in infant formula attracted significant attention in major US newspapers and on cable TV. The New York Times (11/26, A19, Martin) reports the discovery raises "the possibility that the problem was more extensive in the United States than previously thought." Although "few details were available late Tuesday, agency officials said they had discovered melamine at trace levels in a single sample of infant formula. It was also discovered in several samples of dietary supplements that are made by some of the same manufacturers who make formula." FDA spokeswoman Judy Leon said, "There's no cause for concern or no risk from these levels." She "said the contamination was most likely the result of food contact with something like a can liner, or from some other manufacturing problems, but not from deliberate adulteration."

        The Los Angeles Times /Bloomberg (11/26) reports, "Of 77 samples tested, only one was found to have melamine, said Leon, who declined to identify the product." The contamination was discovered "as part of an FDA testing program begun after the chemical was found in Chinese products. The amount of melamine in the US sample was 'well below' 250 parts per billion, Leon said." Leon said, "That is what is considered trace amounts. ... It has nothing to do with adulteration."

        The Washington Post (11/26, Shin) in its "Check Out" blog cites the Bloomberg News story and points out, "Not sure how this jibes with the Food and Drug Administration's recent risk assessment which said it was 'unable to establish any level of melamine and melamine-related compounds in infant formula that does not raise public health concerns' but you be the judge!"

        In an article published on the web sites of over 150 US media outlets the AP (11/26, Mendoza, Pritchard) reports FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition director Dr. Stephen Sundlof said, "The levels that we are detecting are extremely low. ... They should not be changing the diet." He "told the AP the positive test results 'so far are in the trace range, and from a public health or infant health perspective, we consider those to be perfectly fine.'" The AP notes, "That's different from the impression of zero tolerance the agency left on Oct. 3."

        The Wall Street Journal (11/26, Zhang, Wang) reports, "Dr. Sundlof said the agency didn't find the combination of melamine and cyanuric acid in any infant formula sample. Together, the two substances cause kidney stones, among other illnesses, and sickened the Chinese infants." Despite the assurance of FDA officials "the findings are likely to upset parents who feed formula to their babies. But just how much is at stake for the manufacturers isn't certain." CNN (11/26) also reports the story.