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The U.S. government began testing domestically produced infant formula in September, soon after melamine-spiked formula was blamed in the deaths of babies in China; so far melamine has been implicated in the sickening of nearly 300,000 babies in China and killing at least six infants there.
In China, melamine was intentionally dumped into watered-down milk to trick food quality tests into showing higher protein levels than actually existed. Byproducts of the milk ended up in infant formula, coffee creamers, even biscuits.
The concentrations of melamine there were extraordinarily high, as much as 2,500 parts per million. The concentrations detected in the U.S. infant formula samples were 10,000 times smaller, as low as 0.25 parts per million. The agency released the results only after The Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information Act request.
There has been very little research on what levels are safe. Cats had kidney failure after eating 32 parts per million of cyanuric acid and 32 parts per million of melamine.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who heads a panel that oversees the FDA budget, reiterated her call for a zero-tolerance policy for melamine in domestic infant formula.
She said the discovery of tainted formula "used by some of our most vulnerable populations should compel the FDA to move expeditiously to eliminate melamine and cyanuric acid from the manufacturing process."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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