Melamine-Tainted Food Sickens Thousands: This Time the Victims are Human

 |  Sep 19th 2008  |   3 Contributions


Few people who lived through it will forget the massive pet food recall that occurred in the early months of 2007. Dozens of brands of food were contaminated. Untold thousands of dogs and cats fell ill or died.

As I mentioned in a previous post, research (supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association--I occasionally have my differences with the organization, but I should emphasize that it also does a tremendous amount of good work) concluded that animals were sickened by a combination of two chemicals in the contaminated food: melamine and cyanuric acid.

Melamine is a chemical normally used in the manufacture of fertilizer and chemicals. It can be used, nefariously, to boost the measured levels of protein in foods when they are tested.

Cyanuric acid is a byproduct of shoddy melamine production. The combination of cyanuric acid and melamine causes crystals to form in the kidneys of mammals, leading in some cases to kidney failure.

Or, to put it another way (what follows are unproven allegations): the manufacturer involved in last year's pet food recall appears to have used melamine to make wheat flour appear to be higher in quality than it actually was. However, that manufacturer appears to have been too cheap to purchase high-quality melamine. The low-quality melamine used to throw off protein testing contained cyanuric acid. The combination of melamine and cyanuric acid sickened and killed pets.

Now, a similar process appears to be happening to humans. Infant formulas tainted with melamine have been linked to illness in thousands of infants in China. Several deaths have been attributed to the formulas.

I have yet to see cyanuric acid mentioned in any article related to this newest scandal, but I suspect that time will show that it, too, is involved in the problem.

It's a sorry situation. My heart goes out to the parents of all affected individuals--dog, cat and human.

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