The current China Milk Scandal should be an opportunity for the Philippines to address a related problem. In China, milk (infant formula) is currently being blamed for the death of some infants, incidence of kidney stones in another 13,000 and currently mild illness in about 54,000 others. At this point, 104 babies are in serious condition. The disaster is being blamed on the toxic substance Melamine which was found in a number of milk products in China.
What is Melamine?
Sometimes confused with the plant and animal compound Melanine or another term ( Melanin ), Melamine is an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of plastic products. Despite that, tests showed that a number of milk companies used it in processing milk.
Why use Melanine in Milk Products?
Dairy companies are suspected to have used Melanine in order to fool government regulators. With Melanine, milk can be diluted with water but continue to register high protein levels. With increased volume, more milk can be sold and the companies make more money. The problem is, Melanine can cause kidney stones and acute renal failure. In low doses Melamine is said to be non toxic but when mixed with cyanuric acid, it forms poorly digestible and deadly crystals. So why did they allow Melanine and Cyanuric acid to mix? A little research revealed that Melamine itself can produce Cyanuric acid. Therefore, by simply adding Melanine in milk, Cyanuric acid can possibly be produced and mixed to result in crystals that will damage people?s kidneys.
In China, a grandmother told reporters that at 2 months old, her grandson?s urine started becoming yellowish in color. At 9 months, it become bloody red. An interview with a doctor revealed that uric acid or calcium crystals (stones) are most probably filled with sharp edges that can tear an infected persons kidney or urethra. That is when the individual starts urinating blood. Needless to say, it is very painful for the infected individual.
As of now, substantial quantities of fresh milk, long life milk, yogurt and ice cream (from China) were found to contain Melamine. It is probably safe to speculate that milk chocolate bars and other products with milk content (from China) are also in danger of containing Melanine.
A Philippine Milk Scandal?
In the Philippines, the Bureau of Food and Drug (BFAD) has banned the importation of milk products from the People?s Republic of China (PROC). All importers and distributors are also ordered to stop selling the product while tests to make sure that imported Chinese milk is safe are being conducted.
A few days ago, the BFAD also warned the public from buying unlabeled milk being sold in plastic packs. There is a strong possibility that those came from China and worse, it may be a part of the contaminated batches that have been ordered destroyed.
What the government is yet to officially acknowledge is the fact that some milk anomalies have been in existence in the Philippines for quite sometime. Cheap and unbranded powdered milk is a regular sighting in most public markets and the possibility that those are bacteria laden is very strong. Sans any label that will make the distributors accountable, the government should immediately ban its sale. A television program once made an investigation and video documented a trader that recycles expired and dirty powdered milk into retail packs. At the very least, those products can result in diarrhea which is the fifth leading cause of infant mortality in the Philippines.
Melanin is a class of compounds found in the plant, animal and protista kingdoms, where it serves predominantly as a pigment. The class of pigments are derivatives of the amino acid tyrosine. The increased production of melanin in human skin is called melanogenesis. It is stimulated by the DNA damages that are caused by UVB-radiation, and it leads to a delayed development of a tan.
The photochemical properties of melanin make it an excellent photoprotectant. This prevents the indirect DNA damage which is responsible for the formation of malignant melanoma.
on the other hand....
Melamine is an organic base and it contains 66% nitrogen by mass and, if mixed with resins, has fire retardant properties due to its release of nitrogen gas when burned or charred
Melamine is also a metabolite of cyromazine, a pesticide. It is formed in the body of mammals who have ingested cyromazine. It has been reported that cyromazine can also be converted to melamine in plants.
Melamine is used to combine with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin, a very durable thermosetting plastic, and melamine foam, a polymeric cleaning product. The end products include countertops, dry erase boards, fabrics, glues, housewares and flame retardants. Melamine is one of the major components in Pigment Yellow 150, a colorant in inks and plastics.
Melamine also enters the fabrication of melamine poly-sulfonate used as superplastizer for making high-resistance concrete. Sulfonated melamine formaldehyde (SMF) is a polymer used as cement admixture to reduce the water content in concrete while increasing the fluidity and the workability of the mix during its handling and pouring.
Melamine derivatives of arsenical drugs are potentially important in the treatment of African trypanosomiasis
Melamine use as non-protein nitrogen (NPN) for cattle was described in a 1958 patent. In 1978, however, a study concluded that melamine "may not be an acceptable non-protein N source for ruminants" because its hydrolysis in cattle is slower and less complete than other nitrogen sources such as cottonseed meal and urea.
Melamine is sometimes illegally added to food products in order to increase the apparent protein content. Standard tests such as the Kjeldahl and Dumas tests estimate protein levels by measuring the nitrogen content, so they can be misled by adding nitrogen-rich compounds such as melamine.
In 2007 a pet food recall was initiated by Menu Foods and other pet food manufacturers who had found their products had been contaminated and caused serious illnesses or deaths in some of the animals that had eaten them. In March 2007, the US Food and Drug Administration reported finding white granular melamine in the pet food, in samples of white granular wheat gluten imported from a single source in China, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology as well as in crystalline form in the kidneys and in urine of affected animals. Further vegetable protein imported from China was later implicated.
In April 2007, The New York Times reported that the addition of "melamine scrap" into fish and livestock feed to give the false appearance of a higher level of protein was an "open secret" in many parts of mainland China, reporting that this melamine scrap was being produced by at least one plant processing coal into melamine. Four days later, the New York Times reported that, despite the widely reported ban on melamine use in vegetable proteins in mainland China, at least some chemical manufacturers continued to report selling it for use in animal feed and in products for human consumption. Li Xiuping, a manager at Henan Xinxiang Huaxing Chemical in Henan Province, stated, "Our chemical products are mostly used for additives, not for animal feed. Melamine is mainly used in the chemical industry, but it can also be used in making cakes." Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical Group, the company reported by the New York Times as producing melamine from coal, produces and sells both urea and melamine but does not list melamine resin as a product.
Another recall incident in 2007 involved melamine which had been purposely added as a binder to fish and livestock feed manufactured in the United States. This was traced to suppliers in Ohio and Colorado.
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