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FDA NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 3, 2008

Media Inquiries:
Stephanie Kwisnek, 301-827-0955
Consumer Inquiries:
888-INFO-FDA


FDA Issues Interim Safety and Risk Assessment of Melamine and Melamine-related Compounds in Food

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today issued the results of its interim safety and risk assessment of melamine and melamine-related compounds in food, including infant formula.

A safety/risk assessment is a scientifically based methodology used to estimate the risk to human health from exposure to specified compounds. It is based on available data and certain scientific assumptions in the absence of data. The purpose of the FDA interim safety/risk assessment was to identify the level of melamine and melamine-related compounds in food which would not raise public health concerns. The interim safety/risk assessment evaluated the melamine exposure in infant formula and in other foods.

The safety/risk assessment, prompted by reports of melamine contamination of milk-derived ingredients and finished food products containing milk manufactured in China, was conducted by scientists from FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and the Center for Veterinary Medicine. The FDA reviewed scientific literature on melamine toxicity. The FDA is in the process of identifying a group of experts that would be charged with the task of reviewing the risk assessment and providing guidance regarding the current gaps in scientific knowledge relating to the toxicity of melamine and its analogues.

Infant Formula

FDA is currently unable to establish any level of melamine and melamine-related compounds in infant formula that does not raise public health concerns. In large part, this is because of gaps in our scientific knowledge about the toxicity of melamine and its analogues in infants, including:

  1. the consequences of the continuous use of infant formulas as the sole source of nutrition;
  2. the uncertainties associated with the possible presence and co-ingestion of more than one melamine analogue; and
  3. for premature infants with immature kidney function, the possibility that they may be fed these formulas as the sole source of nutrition and thus on a body weight basis experience greater levels of intake for a longer time than is experienced by term infants.

There is too much uncertainty to set a level in infant formula and rule out any public health concern. However, it is important to understand that this does not mean that any exposure to any detectable level of melamine and melamine–related compounds in formula will result in harm to infants.

Other Food Products

In food products other than infant formula, the FDA concludes that levels of melamine and melamine-related compounds below 2.5 parts per million (ppm) do not raise concerns. This conclusion assumes a worst case exposure scenario in which 50% of the diet is contaminated at this level, and applies a 10-fold safety factor to the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) to account for any uncertainties. The TDI is an estimate of the maximum amount of an agent to which an individual could be exposed on a daily basis over the course of a lifetime without an appreciable health risk.

FDA continues to screen products, collaborate with foreign governments and their regulatory agencies, and monitor reports of contamination from international sources to help ensure that potentially contaminated products from foreign sources are examined if imported into the United States. If products are adulterated because they contain melamine and/or a melamine-related compound, the agency will take appropriate actions to prevent the products from entering commerce.

Chinese Translation (pdf, 79KB)

Interim Safety and Risk Assessment of Melamine and Its Analogues in Foods for Humans

Questions and Answers

Melamine Methodology

  • Determination of Melamine and Cyanuric Acid Residues in Infant Formula using LC-MS/MS
  • Interim Method for Determination of Melamine and Cyanuric Acid Residues in Foods using LC-MS/MS

Additional Information

FDA Detects Melamine Contamination in Flavored Drink (Oct. 6, 2008)
FDA Updates Health Information Advisory on Melamine Contamination (Sept. 26, 2008)
FDA Updates Health Information Advisory on Melamine Contamination (Sept. 23, 2008)
FDA Updates Health Information Advisory on Melamine Contamination (Sept. 20, 2008)
FDA Issues Health Information Advisory on Infant Formula (Sept. 12, 2008)

Tristar Food Wholesale Co Inc. Issues a Nationwide recall of Blue Cat Flavor Drink Because of Possible Health Risk (Oct. 3, 2008) 
Mr. Brown 3-In-1 & and 2-In-1 Powdered Packets in Bag Coffee Mixes Due To Health Risk (Oct. 1, 2008)
QFCO, Inc. Recalls White Rabbit Candy Because of Possible Health Risk (Sept. 26, 2008)

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