Melamine is prized for its durability and during the 1950s was used to produce a wide range of brightly coloured dishware, bowls and containers. The compound is still used to create utensils and dishware and is used to create a resin coating for wood and textiles. Some flame-retardants, fertilizers and dyes also contain melamine.
In 2007, U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials speculated melamine was added to the wheat gluten and rice protein used for pet food because it falsely appeared to raise the protein content of the ingredients. In the tainted milk crisis, authorities suggest melamine was used to mask low nutrient levels in watered-down milk.
Separate testing by both Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found traces of melamine in infant formula, one of the first times the industrial chemical used to make plastic has been found in baby food made in North America.
You might think that people charged with the protection of public health would ban such additives outright. But No, the FDA has instead set “acceptable limits” for the inclusion of Melamine in infant formula, pet food, cookies, coffee products, and other yet to be named foods we eat every day.
“The levels were so low … that they do not cause a health risk to infants,” Dr. Stephen Sundlof, the FDA’s director of food safety, said recently. “Parents using infant formula should continue using U.S.-manufactured infant formula. Switching away from one of these infant formulas to alternate diets or homemade formulas could result in infants not receiving the complete nutrition required for proper growth and development.”