Since the 2007 pet food recall, melamine has been discovered in many ‘people’ products from infant formula to candy to powdered cheese to coffee creamers; recalls continue worldwide. Although the Chinese government assures the world they have everything under control, the world has to wonder if melamine has been added to other products without anyone’s knowledge, how long has this risk been going on, and does it pose a health risk to US consumers. A new report from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases states chronic kidney disease is up 30 percent in the US; consumers have to wonder if melamine contamination plays a role in the dramatic increase.
March 2007 taught the world a new word, melamine. Although melamine has been around for years in the use of making plastics, few consumers knew of the word or at the least paid much attention to it. Then in March 2007 when thousands of pet owners learned that unscrupulous Chinese suppliers used melamine to boost the protein analysis of some common pet food ingredients to earn a few more dollars, melamine became a household word. After the pet food horror, melamine went silent for a few months; but in 2008 became a topic of concern all over again when it was discovered to be in everything from baby formulas, to candy, to powdered cheese – various recalled products worldwide.
The worry for US consumers is not only what product will be recalled next due to melamine contamination, but also if there have been melamine contaminated products that have slipped into the US unnoticed. Currently only 1% to 3% of all foods and drugs imported into the United States are inspected by the FDA. This means that anywhere from 97% to 99% of all imported food and drugs are not inspected; including 97% to 99% of all imported potential melamine risk products from China.
Enter into concern a new report from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases dated October 8, 2008. This shocking report tells us that chronic kidney disease is up 30% in the US over the last decade. http://www.nih.gov/news/health/oct2008/niddk-08.htm This is such an increase in reports of kidney disease that for the first time in history the US Renal Data Systems published a separate report documenting “the magnitude of the disease, which affects an estimated 27 million Americans and accounts for more than 24 percent of Medicare costs.” National Institutes of Health director Elias A. Zerhouni, MD states “the major focus on chronic kidney disease in this year’s report acknowledges that this disorder is a growing public health issue deserving of wider public awareness and intensified scientific investigation.”
A method of defense to protect your family would be country of origin ingredient information provided on every product you purchase. Unfortunately, the FDA has no plans to provide consumers with complete country of origin information. On September 30, 2008 the COOL Law – Country of Origin Labeling – was enacted requiring country of origin information for certain beef, lamb, pork, chicken, goat, veal, wild and farm-raised seafood, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and ginseng sold in the United States. The COOL Law does not require any potential melamine risk products or ingredients to provide country of origin information to consumers. As the laws currently stand, consumers have no way of knowing if any ingredient in their coffee creamer, or dried cheese, or pet foods or hundreds of other potential risk items, originated from China.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal perfectly explains the dilemma for US consumers with Chinese imports. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122400110147832865.html?mod=googlenews_wsj While China tells the world that potential melamine tainted products are under close scrutiny, the real story is quite different. “A reporter at Southern Weekend magazine first blew the whistle on reports of babies possibly sickened by milk powder in late July. Or rather, he would have if he and his editor had been allowed to publish an article on the case. Instead, the story fell victim to a directive from the Propaganda Department forbidding negative reporting on food safety ahead of the Olympics. This episode shows how China’s media controls make it impossible for the press to serve as an effective watchdog. Since the milk scandal erupted, Beijing has grown more restrictive, not less.”
At an International Food Safety meeting held in Taiwan on October 16, 2008, melamine was “one of the key issues” discussed. http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=765092 A U.S. FDA representative was quoted as saying “there are no safety concerns with 2.5 ppm (parts per million) of melamine in foods.” On the contrary, the new Department of Health minister for Taiwan – after melamine was found in Pizza Hut dried cheese packets in Taiwan – decided that food products containing dairy and non-diary ingredients must test 100% negative for melamine.
A 30% increase in kidney disease in the US is some startling statistics. U.S. Consumers will probably never know if the increase has a connection to melamine. Regardless, the FDA needs to step forward and immediately implement changes in the COOL Law to include any and all products or ingredients of products that have the slightest potential for melamine contamination. And, the FDA needs to inspect and laboratory test every single shipment of every single product imported from China; 1% to 3% will simply not do.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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