WHO Issued Safety Limits for Levels of Melamine in Foods

Do you still remember about the melamine problem in formula milk for baby? Melamine has been blamed for sickening nearly 300,000 children in China and may have caused six deaths. Melamine can cause kidney stones if consumed in excessive levels; in severe cases, it can cause kidney failure. The chemical has been routinely mixed into Chinese milk and dairy products to boost protein content.

Responding to mounting global concerns, the World Health Organization on Friday issued safety limits for levels of melamine in foods. The industrial chemical should not be present in baby formula, but trace levels are unavoidable in some foods, especially those consumed by adults, according to published reports.

Jorgen Schlundt, the WHO director for food safety, said the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) threshold states that a 50 kilogram (110-pound) person could tolerate 10 milligrams of melamine a day. This is not a "safe" level, but rather the amount a human being can consume without higher health risks, Schlundt said, according to the Associated Press.

The melamine scandal has prompted many countries around the world, including the 27-nation European Union, to ban Chinese milk imports. The United States has put in place an import alert that requires importers to prove that Chinese milk products are melamine-free. The FDA had originally said that no levels of the chemical were acceptable. However, last month they announced an allowable threshold of 1 part per million of melamine in baby formula.