FDA Sets Safety Threshold for Contaminant Melamine
By Marc Kaufman
Source of Article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/03/AR2008100301258.html?hpid=sec-health
concerns about the presence of the contaminant melamine in numerous foods
officials said, is melamine in baby formula, which has sickened more than
54,000 infants in
The FDA set 2.5 parts per million as the maximum "tolerable" amount of melamine that could be safely consumed in other foods.
"It would be like if you had a million grains of sand and they were all white, and you had two or three that were black, that's kind of the magnitude," said Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's food safety program.
melamine-contaminated foods found in recent weeks in the
levels in imported Chinese candies recalled last week in California, for
instance, were as high as 520 parts per million. White Rabbit candies from
consumers first learned of the dangers of melamine when it was found last
year in pet food ingredients made in
The FDA guidelines were issued to help federal and state investigators checking for contaminated Chinese products as they enter the country and in Asian grocery stores. Sundlof said the agency's goal is to identify products with potentially dangerous levels of melamine, rather than to find each small instance of contamination.
But Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), head of a House subcommittee that oversees FDA funding, criticized the agency for saying there could be safe levels of melamine in foods.
"While other countries throughout the world, including the European Union, are acting to ban melamine-contaminated products from China, the FDA has chosen to establish an acceptable level for melamine in food in an attempt to convince consumers that it is not harmful," DeLauro said in a statement. "Not only is this is an insult to consumers, but it would appear that the FDA is condoning the intentional contamination of foods."
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