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Melamine: Another Toxic Industrial Byproduct Planted In The Food Chain

By The Idaho Observer

Over the last few years, the list of food and drug recalls, ecoli and other food borne illness outbreaks and food/beverage-induced mass poisonings have become more frequent. Government-approved pharma drugs and chemicals of known toxicity are leeching into the environment and are intentionally added into products being sold to consumers. The most recent corporate food adulteration scandal involves melamine contamination in baby formula. While tragic for the babies themselves and the adults who loved them, the larger lesson of this poisoning is that corporate convenience and profit trump public health and safety when it comes to government regulatory oversight.

Near the end of September 2008, news was broadcast worldwide that 53,000 infants in China had become ill and several died as a result of melamine-contaminated milk.

This wasn’t the first time that Chinese melamine has contaminated products with deadly results. In March, 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began receiving thousands of reports of American cats and dogs dying from kidney failure after eating contaminated pet food. Although only 14 cases were confirmed as "melamine poisoning from pet food," there is no centralized reporting system so the numbers of dogs and cats that died of melamine poisoning was likely much higher.

The pattern being revealed here is the increasingly pervasive presence of melamine contamination in commonly-consumed food products both here in the U.S. and abroad.

What is melamine?

There are several ways to produce melamine, some of which have been patented by Rockefeller’s Standard Oil subsidiary American Cyanamid beginning in 1956. Melamine, which is 66 percent nitrogen by mass, is added to a variety of plastics, resins, coatings and even concrete products to reduce porosity and increase strength. Melamine is also a flame retardant.

the Dutch company DSM, the world’s largest melamine producer, published an "industry update" in April, 2007. The update noted that, between 2002 and 2007, while the global melamine price remained stable, a steep increase in the price of urea (feedstock for melamine) has reduced the profitability of melamine manufacturing.

While melamine is manufactured as an end product, it is also a byproduct of synthesis gas production. "Syngas" production in China has been increasing to meet with the nation’s growing energy needs by converting low-grade coal into liquid fuel through a process that involves the conversion of urea through "pyrolysis" (heat and pressure in the absence of oxygen). Melamine is a byproduct of urea pyrolysis.

Since early 2006, mainland China, with melamine production growing by about 10 percent a year, has been experiencing a "serious surplus" of melamine and has recently become the world’s leading melamine exporter.

The emerging picture is that melamine, as a byproduct of syngas production, like sodium fluoride as a byproduct of aluminum and phosphate fertilizer manufacture (and depleted uranium as a byproduct of nuclear energy production), is expensive to dispose of properly so it is being diluted in commonly-consumed products and sold to people.

Melamine in milk and milk products

Melamine, a white powder that is not approved as a food additive, has very little taste or odor and is illegally being added to milk and milk products. Tests also show that melamine contains zero protein but has a unique chemistry that falsely accentuates the protein values of milk and milk products.

The basic nutrient in milk is the protein "casseinate." Melamine has nearly the same protein structure as casseinate but contains too many nitrogen ions and cannot be absorbed nor excreted by the kidneys and kidney failure eventually results. This can be especially dangerous if one’s diet is high in nitrates such as those found in processed meats like ham, lunchmeat and hot dogs.

Adding melamine to milk powder not only reduces the actual milk content but is much cheaper than milk so it lowers production costs. Melamine can be easily mixed with powdered milk and, since it doesn’t have a unique smell or taste, it cannot be detected by consumers.

Melamine in food

The nitrogen-rich molecule is sometimes illegally added to food products in order to increase its apparent protein content. It has also been employed as a non-protein nitrogen, appearing in soy meal, corn gluten meal and cottonseed meal used in cattle feed. Melamine is known to cause renal and urinary problems in humans and animals when it reacts with cyanuric acid inside the body.


In 2007, an estimated 50,000 cats and dogs in the U.S. died suddenly due to kidney failure. Investigators traced the cause to pet food that contained melamine-contaminated wheat gluten from China.

Beginning in 2008, hospitals in China reported an abnormal increase in infant cases of kidney stones. By August, 2008, China’s Sanlu Milk Powder tested positive for melamine content.

In September, 2008, New Zealand’s government asked China’s regulators to test milk products. By September 21, 2008, the vast majority of milk-based food products manufactured in China and stored in Taiwan warehouses tested positive for melamine content.

New Zealand, Australia and most E.U. nations responded by ordering a recall of melamine-contaminated products from China and issued public warnings.

In the U.S., however, because of the threat of credit market collapse, our shaky stock market, bank failures and Chinese ownership of $trillions in bonds and real U.S. assets, the Bush Administration’s FDA and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt failed to order recalls or issue a public warning (Curiously, they continue to promote avian flu vaccines which are also manufactured in China by Rockefeller’s Sanofi-Pasteur). Meanwhile, many common food products contain melamine that are sold in stores throughout America.

What happens when melamine is ingested?

Melamine ends up inside the kidneys eventually forming stones which block the tubes that excrete urine. Since the person cannot urinate the pain is intense. The kidneys then swell and eventually begin to bleed. Although surgery can remove the stones, ingestion of melamine will often cause irreversible kidney damage. This can lead to loss of kidney function resulting in death from uremia or, if caught in time, long kidney dialysis—the expensive blood filtering process that takes about four hours every three days—for the rest of one’s life or until damaged kidneys can be replaced.

Why is kidney damage more serious in babies? Kidneys are very small and most modern babies, unfortunately, drink a lot of infant formula. It is estimated that 13,000 infants in China are currently hospitalized but since the media is tightly controlled in China, the actual number may be much higher.

What foods should be avoided?

Foods that contain dairy products from China should be avoided. Most milk chocolate sold is contaminated with melamine. Brand names such as Kraft, Nestle, Dreyer’s, Nabisco, Vitasoy, Mars and countless others use ingredients from China that could be contaminated with melamine.We suggest that you avoid food products from China and products containing Chinese ingredients until further public notice.

If you own a snack bar, restaurant or coffee shop, stop selling dairy-containing products from China. If you have infants at home, change to mother’s milk or find other substitutes such as raw goat’s milk. It is vitally important that you share this information with family and friends so they will understand the risk of melamine-contaminated milk poisoning.

The whole world (the Bush administration notwithstanding) is now deeply concerned with food products made in China or manufactured from ingredients made in China. It is difficult to determine where products are made based upon labels or barcodes. It may be prudent to simply avoid mass-produced and nationally-distributed milk and milk products unless you are certain that they are not imported from China or made from ingredients imported from China.

But where does it end?

If we are to boycott food from China and Taiwan because we suspect it may contain melamine, should we not also boycott food from the U.S. known to contain dangerous FDA-approved additives and drugs, genetically-modified plant and animal products? Should we not boycott U.S. food that has been irradiated to extend shelf life?

We are quickly coming full circle in the food-production cycle. We began as hunter-gatherers who either acquired food or starved. With urbanization came the division of labor and farmers produced food in trade for goods and services produced and supplied by others. Mechanization, coupled with corporatization, replaced farmers and food began being processed and packaged more and more for maximum profit and minimal personal liability to the point we are at today: The food supply sustains corporate profit not human life.

Our two choices are emerging: Eat poisoned food from corporate (fiction) sources and die slowly, or eat wholesome food from local (Creation) sources and live.

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