Minor melamine intake poses little health hazards: Experts

Kathmandu, September 30:

The melamine, despite non-approved as a consumable item by the World Health Organisation (WHO), health experts ascertain that little intake would not have immediate and hazardous effect on adults. In fact, one should not panic about small intake.

Despite the world-wide hue and cry — followed by the ban on Chinese milk-based food products —due to suspected melamine contamination, experts say little intake is not all that hazardous. Melamine, however, poses more harm to infants.

According to WHO, total daily intake (TDI) of 0.63 mg of melamine per kg of body weight

is considered a tolerable amount for adults.

However, addition of melamine into food items is not approved by the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius (food standard commission), or by any other national authorities.

“As melamine causes a false increase in the measurement of protein by increasing the nitrogen levels in the milk, it is added to get around the quality tests,” said Dr Megh Raj Bhandari, general secretary, Nepal Food Scientists Association.

WHO has stated there are no direct human studies on the effect of melamine, but data from animal studies reveals it could cause gall bladder stones. When combined with cyanuric acid, which may also be present in melamine powder, crystals of melamine may result in formation

of kidney stones.

Globally, the melamine contamination is considered hazardous for infants. WHO record, as of September 29, has accounted over 54,000 children in China seeking treatment and 12,900 hospitalised. “We are not at high risk in case of infants because the supply for baby food comes from India,” said Dr Rameshwor Man Shrestha, director, Kanti Child Hospital. He added mothers are being encouraged to breastfeed. He said no cases have been reported so

far on children taking ill due to consumption of melamine-laced milk products.

However, experts warned if the contamination of melamine is proved, such food items should not be consumed since it is an organic base chemical.

The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control has assured that the test of the food items for melamine contamination would, in all likelihood, begin after Dashain.