Hot News frum Big-Mouth Broad Castin'; Dec. 16th, 2008
Agency determines that testing is "prudent"
By Lisa Wade McCormick
December 15, 2008
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will now test certain meat and poultry products — including baby food, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets — for the chemical melamine.
The action by the agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) comes amid concerns that melamine contamination in some imported foods--specifically those that contain milk products imported from China--may have spread to meat and poultry.
"In light of recent disclosures of melamine being found in certain imported food products, FSIS has determined that it is prudent to do a small amount of sampling to see if there is any reason to be concerned about the presence of this chemical in meat and poultry products," the agency wrote.
As ConsumerAffairs.com has reported, Chinese officials in September discovered melamine in the powered infant formula made it that country. Officials later learned that some dairy plants intentionally added the chemical to milk products to make them appear to have higher protein levels.
China's melamine-tainted milk scandal is blamed for the deaths of at least six infants in that country and the illnesses of thousands of other babies.
The tentacles of that contamination spread around the world to such products as candies, yogurt, cookies, and coffees.
FSIS officials say federal investigators will, over the next 12 weeks, collect meat and poultry products that contain such milk-derived ingredients as non-fat dried milk, casein, whey, evaporated milk, and milk powder, and test them for melamine. The agency will collect 45 samples a week from retail stores for these tests.
FSIS officials will test the following products for melamine contamination:
• Baby food (containing a significant amount of meat or poultry products);
• Cooked sausages (including hot dogs or frankfurters with and without cheese products);
• Breaded chicken (bite sized morsels or nuggets with and without cheese products);
• Meat and poultry wrapped in dough and pizza (including calzones)
Melamine is used make plastic and fertilizers. Doctors say it can cause kidney stones and lead to kidney failure.
For years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not allow melamine in any human or pet food.
FDA officials, however, recently reversed that position, saying levels of melamine below 2.5 parts per million (ppm) in food did not pose a health risk.
The only exception to this new standard is infant formula. The FDA said the levels of melamine--or one of its analogues alone-- that did not pose a health concern in infant formula was below 1.0 ppm.
Melamine is blamed for the illnesses and deaths of thousands of dogs and cats in the United States last year.The presence of that chemical in the imported wheat gluten from China triggered the largest pet food recall in U.S. history.
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