However, melamine is not naturally found in soil, water, or air -- it is completely man-made. The acceptable level should be zero.
But according to the National Health Federation:
"The CCCF party line, espoused most vocally by the European Union (EU), was to establish an acceptable contamination level for melamine at 1.0 part per million (ppm, equal to 1 milligram per kilogram of food) for infant formulas and 2.5 ppm for adults."
The meeting ended having adopted standards of melamine contamination that will pointlessly harm humans and animals all over the world.
Many are still blissfully unaware of the Codex Committee,conceived by the United Nations all the way back in 1962.
Before I get into their latest recommendation to allow melamine contamination in food, including baby food and infant formulas, let's review what Codex is.
What is Codex?
The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created through a series of relationships between The World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the American FDA and USDA.
The "Codex Alimentarius" itself is a compilation of food standards, codes of practice and guidelines that specify all requirements related to foods, whether processed, semi-processed, genetically engineered, or raw. Their purpose: to protect consumers' health, ensure fair business practices within the food trade, and eliminate international food trade barriers by standardizing food quality.
Sounds great! So, what's the problem?
Codex Uses Toxicology to Assess Nutrients
There are many problems with Codex, none of which are immediately recognizable without the proper perspective. One of the most bizarre and potentially dangerous issues is their Vitamin and Mineral Guideline, finalized on July 4, 2005, which classifies nutrients as toxins.
In their finite wisdom, the Codex Commission decided—with the support of the United States—to use Risk Assessment as the appropriate science to assess the maximum level of a nutrient that may be ingested without causing any discernable biological effect.
Did you get that one? Let's take that once more, from the top.
Risk Assessment is a branch of Toxicology, also known as the science of toxins. In a sane world, it is used to assess how much of a toxic substance you can safely consume without noticing any physical effects or problems. As soon as there is a biological effect, you have hit the upper, maximum limit for that substance.
Codex Alimentarius is, slowly but surely, shimmying into position to mandate the universal maximum "safe" level of every vitamin, mineral, supplement and herb that may legally be manufactured, used or sold, with "safe" being a level that has no physical effect.
The Codex Vitamin and Mineral Guideline, 3.2.2 reads:
"Maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals in vitamin and mineral food supplements per daily portion of consumption as recommended by the manufacturer shall be set, taking the following criteria into account:
(a) upper safe levels of vitamins and minerals established by scientific risk assessment based on generally accepted scientific data, taking into consideration, as appropriate, the varying degrees of sensitivity of different consumer groups;
(b) the daily intake of vitamins and minerals from other dietary sources."
The end result of Codex, once thoroughly implemented by any nation?
Nutritional supplements in doses that have no beneficial impact on health whatsoever.
But here we have yet another issue, and that is that they're also reviewing and adopting "acceptable levels" of food contaminants, in this case melamine.
What is Melamine?
You may remember melamine from the 2007 contaminated pet food debacle that caused renal failure and killed thousands of beloved house pets. This was quickly followed by the discovery of melamine in infant formulas and milk products as tens of thousands of Chinese infants were hospitalized with renal problems.
Melamine is actually an industrial chemical used in the production of melawares – a nearly indestructible, hard plastic. It's also used in other household items like laminates and fertilizers.
However, it also mimics protein when tested, so adding this inexpensive compound to animal feed and even human food production reduces the actual protein content required while still making the product appear to have the correct level of nutrients. Naturally, this saves unscrupulous manufacturers lots of money.
According to industry experts and businesspeople in China, melamine has been routinely added to fish feed, for example, to boost protein readings. Disturbingly, research indicates that the flesh of fish that have been fed melamine still contains residues of the substance.
The Upside-Down World of Codex
Logic would dictate that the acceptable level of melamine in food – whether intentional or unintentional – should be zero.
Over time, the melamine you ingest can accumulate in your body and create what essentially amounts to rock hard, indigestible, insoluble, unbreakable plastic particles... We know it can do this because thousands of pets and several infants have already died from renal failure after consuming melamine contaminated foods.
For a more in-depth discussion on melamine toxicity and accumulation, please review the National Health Federation's written comments, submitted to the Codex Commission for consideration. I also wrote about the signs, symptoms, and potentially lethal repercussions from melamine accumulation in the previous article Everything You Need to Know About the Latest Threat to Your Baby.
Unfortunately, logic has never been a strong suit for the Codex Commission and this instance is no exception.
Despite the fact that melamine contaminated infant formula has killed at least four babies, and hospitalized over 54,000 others, they've decided that "non-intentional" melamine contamination will be allowed in food up to 1.0 parts per million (ppm) for infant formulas and 2.5 ppm for adults.
A very basic problem here is the fact that it's unlikely for most melamine contamination to be "un-intentional" or "unavoidable." It has already been determined that food contamination with this substance is in most cases intentional, as it artificially inflates protein content.
Making matters even worse, the Codex Commission also agreed on certain exemptions under which even the higher 2.5 ppm level may be exceeded. Those three exemptions include melamine contamination from:
- The application of cyromazine as a pesticide/herbicide
- The migration of melamine from dinnerware and food containers
- Certain food additives and ingredients
The last one, in particular, sounds like the type of exemption a Mack truck full of melamine could drive through.
I agree with Mr.Tips of the National Health Federation who stated:
"It is truly bizarre that Codex delegates will trip all over themselves in their rush to establish low maximum acceptable levels for healthy vitamins and minerals, but when it comes to a true industrial contaminant, extremely harmful to health, they look the other way."
Priority Number One: Keeping Your Baby Safe
Although melamine contamination has been found in several foods such as a variety of milk products and fish, its presence in infant formula is perhaps the most disturbing, and the most dangerous.
Breastfeeding is without question the best way to keep your child safe from contaminants in commercial formula.
Beyond the concern for safety, absolutely nothing beats breast milk as a nutritional and health resource for your baby. There are at least 400 nutrients in breast milk that are not found in formula.
Whatever you do, avoid using infant soy formula. Unfermented soy is hazardous to your health, and soy formula is one of the worst foods you can feed to your baby.
Keeping Your Entire Family Safe from Melamine Contaminated Foods
The bottom line here is this: know where your food comes from and how it's produced. This may sound like an impossible task, and in many cases it will be. Particularly if you depend on processed and commercially farmed foods.
However, if you purchase mainly raw organic foods, such as raw dairy, organic grass-fed beef, and free-range eggs from local farmers that adhere to organic farming practices, you can eliminate much of these worries since their livestock must be put out to pasture and eat their natural diet for most part of the year, instead of relying on potentially contaminated animal feed.
This reference page also contains links to a long list of organizations that can help you find local sources for high quality organic foods.