by Marion Nestle
Nov 25 2008

Melamine in U.S. infant formula?

Oh great.  So now trace amounts of melamine are turning up in infant formulas made by all the big makers.  The amounts –  0.1 to 0.2 ppm or less –  are way too low to be harmful, says the FDA.  This seems logical, but does this mean that trace amounts of melamine are in everything?  And it would be good to know what concentration of melamine mixed with cyanuric acid – or uric acid – is safe.  I can understand why the FDA might not want to get into all this but I wish the Associated Press could have gotten this information without having to file a freedom-of-information-act request.

Updates: Here’s the more circumspect account in the New York Times, and a skeptical commentary from  The Washington Post (November 29) reported specific figures: The FDA tested 87 infant formula products and has results for 77.  Of these, it found melamine at levels of .137 and .14 parts per million in Nestle Good Start Supreme Infant Formula with Iron in liquid form.  It also found cyanuric acid at levels between 0.245 ppm and 0.249 ppm in Enfamil Lipil with Iron (Mead Johnson Nutritionals/Briston-Myers Squibb). These are very low levels.

  • Maria

    So, I am breastfeeding and supplimenting with formula- do I turn to soy? Is that clean?

  • Maria

    So, I am breastfeeding and supplimenting with formula- do I turn to soy? Is that clean?

  • I love that my tax money goes to fund government research but that to actually get access to the results, a shake-down needs to happen.

    This is insane. So is there any news yet on how melamine is getting into the food supply, or do your past interviews and writings on the subject stand–it shouldn’t be there unless an unscrupulous person added it at some point?

  • Bianca

    Laurel, I was just reading that melamine is used in some U.S. plastic food packaging and can rub off onto the food that we eat. And its also in cleaning solution that is used on some food processing equipment and can get into the products being prepared. Here is the link

  • I can understand why anyone would be concerned. It looks like melamine is in packaging materials. But the amount that leaches out is very low. The Chinese infant formula contained 2,000 ppm melamine or more. The U.S. formula has 0.2 ppm at most. That’s a 10,000-fold difference and is way too low to form kidney crystals. I suspect that soy formulas are much the same.

  • I think the melamine scandal is just getting its footing. I blogged today about how Chinese melamine manufacturers admitted to selling melamine to fish food makers around the world. Who will test fish?

    Also, I blogged about how melamine is used in domestic fertilizers, and just how pervasive it is.

    One can only hope that the new FDA will take its mandate more seriously and be less of a shill for the food industry and its lobbyists.

    Rick Tannenbaum

  • Foodaroo

    Even though mother’s milk may contain pesticide residues, breastfeeding is still healthier for the baby because during the first so many months of the newborn’s life, the baby can absorb whole protein. Adults can’t. It is then when the mother’s antibodies are directly passed onto the baby.

    Mothers who are thinking of using cow’s milk instead, DON’T. Scientists think children who were fed this way as babies is the reason they end up being Type 1 diabetics because they lack the ability to recognize human antibodies, and so their bodies attack and destroy their own beta cells in the pancreas among other things.

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  • Diana

    Um, why doesn’t the FDA just set the legal limit at ZERO.

    I’ve been wondering where the makers of Similac and Enfamil get their milk supply. Is there any way to find out?? I can’t find any leads on this online at all. I’m quite concerned because my baby had Similac exclusively from about 9 to 13 months of age.

  • maria

    similac does not disclose what formula of theirs has melamine..but my call to the rep of abbott labs …resulted that their formula has some things chinese made in them ..not nessesary the milk ..but things like milk sugars or whey proteins….lol but only from reputable chinese sources…so i stopped similac organic …and bought natures One organic..they said none of their infant formula contains anything chinese …AND THEY TEST FOR MELAMINE AFTER EVERY BATCH OF FORMULA MADE…AND HAVE NOT DETECTED MELAMINE…….THAT MEANS THEY ARE EITHER LYING ..OR THE FACT THAT NOTHING IN THEIR FORMULA IS FROM CHINA ..HELPS A 100% WITH NOT FINDING MELAMINE IN THEIR PRODUCT …I BELIEVE WHAT THEY ARE SAYING…ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS STOP SUPPORTING CHINESE CRAP

  • maria