Kiwi Polemicist

September 22, 2008

Why is melamine going into Chinese baby formula?

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Kiwi Polemicist @ 6:00 am

This is outside my usual range of topics, but I found this interesting and perhaps you will too.

John Reeve from the Food Safety Authority was on the radio explaining why melamine was put into baby formula. It’s actually added to the milk powder which is used in the manufacture of the formula:

1) milk powder is used to supply the protein portion in baby formula. There is a direct correlation between the quality of the feed given to the cows and the protein in their milk.

2) the protein content of the milk powder is calculated by reducing it to its basic elements and measuring the nitrogen level: higher protein levels mean that the milk powder will command a higher price.

3) melamine is a cheap chemical used for manufacturing plastics and it is high in nitrogen. When milk powder containing melamine is reduced to its basic elements for testing the melamine becomes undetectable and it boosts the nitrogen level. Thus you have a milk powder that is made from cheap milk, but which commands a premium price because of its false protein level.

4) the melamine precipitates out in urine (goes from being dissolved in a liquid to being a solid), causing kidney stones because urine is formed inside the kidneys.

5) melamine can be detected by testing the milk powder before it is reduced to its basic elements for measuring nitrogen levels. Baby formula in the ready-to-sell form can also be tested.

6) the same scam has been used in pet food, which also uses milk powder as a protein source.

International demand for dairy products is high at present, so prices are high and scams like this are more attractive.

Baby formula scams are a recurring problem in China.



  1. Thanks for the info…I reviewed it for StumbleUpon

    Comment by DR — September 25, 2008 @ 7:07 am

  2. You’re welcome, thanks for the review.

    Comment by kiwipolemicist — September 25, 2008 @ 7:43 am

  3. […] my earlier post I gave the reasons for melamine being added to baby formula and the effects that it has on the […]

    Pingback by Melamine has been found in soya products from China « Kiwi Polemicist — December 4, 2008 @ 10:20 am

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