Consumer AlertDiet-NutritionInfantsKidney Disease

Safety update on melamine in infant formula

Melamine-contaminated products from China have been a topic here for almost 2 years.

Now, the FDA has published guidelines for safe levels.

According to an Associated Press article, “Problems with melamine-spiked formula surfaced this fall in China, where unscrupulous manufacturers intentionally dumped it into watered-down milk to falsely elevate protein levels. The concentrations in China were as much as 2,500 ppm — about 10,000 times greater than what the FDA found in the US.

In the FDA study, levels, ranged from 0.137 ppm of melamine in 1 product to 0.247 ppm of cyanuric acid in another. A hugh difference from the Chinese products.

These values are interesting but not of much use to consumers, since melamine levels are not reported on infant formula containers.

As a result, Consumers Union urged the FDA “to immediately make public all of the results of its tests for melamine contamination in food.”

The bottom line?
High levels of melamine in infant formula manufactured in China have been blamed for the deaths of at least 3 babies and making at least 50,000 others ill.

There are no reports in the US of human illness from melamine, which can be used legally in product packaging and in a solution to clean manufacturing equipment.

The toxicity from melamine occurs when it binds with other chemicals in urine, potentially causing damaging stones in the kidney or bladder and, in extreme cases, kidney failure.

For the record, here are melamine levels in 2 popular products.

  • Nestlé’s Good Start Supreme Infant Formula with Iron
    • 2 positive tests for melamine on 1 sample, with readings of 0.137 and 0.14 parts per million.
  • Mead Johnson’s Infant Formula Powder, Enfamil LIPIL with Iron
    • 3 positive tests for cyanuric acid, at an average of 0.247 parts per million.

Abbott Laboratories, the third manufacturer of infant formula, has reported “trace levels of melamine in its infant formula.”

Nestle, Mead Johnson, and Abbott account for about 90% of infant formula produced in the US.

12/1/08 15:00 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.