Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

China Spreads the Melamine

Melamine was once used to make plates and kitchenware, but it can be used to mimic proteins in milk and foodstuff — hence this year's big "made in China" scandal. There had been a preview of melamine's dangers in 2007, when dogs and cats around the world suffered kidney failure because they weren't able to process the compound, which is not poisonous but cannot be broken down by the body. Melamine had been secreted into pet food manufactured in China to make it appear more nutritious. In 2008, the victims were babies. Six Chinese infants died from kidney failure, while close to 300,000 were hospitalized. One company apologized on Sept. 15, but melamine was an open-secret ingredient in the Chinese food industry, and the panic went global because of the ubiquity of Chinese food exports. Melamine has since been found in animal feed and eggs, and even sex toys. (Sept. 15)