photo by Markhillary
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. recently launched a program that assists governments and companies in the detection of melamine in food products imported from China. In September of 2008, 53,000 Chinese infants fell ill due to melamine contamination in their milk and formula. Because of this, the FDA set forth new regulations in October of '08. The regulations changed the way milk-related imports from China would be dealt with, hence, the new detection program. What is Melamine?
Melamine is an industrial chemical. It’s commonly found in dry erase boards, flame-retardant fabrics and efficient industrial filters. It’s also used to make Formica and the cleaning product known as Magic Eraser. It is able to withstand greater heat than most other plastics. On the downside, it is difficult to recycle.
Melamine and Health
Some believe that Melamine was used in milk to fake a higher perceived protein level. A little protein is good for you, but a little melamine will really ruin your day. Both Humans and animals are unable to metabolize melamine. If ingested, the melamine can crystallize in the kidneys. These crystals can form cysts, lead to kidney stones, damage the reproductive system and cause cancer. It is also an eye, skin and respiratory irritant. Not fun stuff, not something we want in our food products. Besides for milk-product contamination, melamine has been found in eggs, chickens, produce and pet chow.
How They Detect Melamine
Thermo Fisher Scientific plans to test the food products with a form of biochemical analysis known as liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry or TSQ Quantum LC-MS/MS System for short. This form of analysis is already being used as a reference by the Administration of Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) in China to detect melamine in milk and other products. Thermo Fisher Scientific also offers services such as sample collection, data management and sample preparation to companies and governments.