FACTBOX: No safe melamine level found for baby formula

Fri Oct 3, 2008 1:47pm EDT

1 of 3. China-made milk products are prepared inside an ultrasonic bath for testing at the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) office in Alabang, south of Manila October 3, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/John Javellana

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(Reuters) - No amount of melamine is safe in baby formula, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Friday in an analysis after milk products from China were found to be contaminated.

Thousands of Chinese children have developed painful kidney stones and four have died, after drinking baby formula contaminated with melamine. The industrial chemical, which can be used to cheat quality tests, also has been found in candy and other products made in China.

FDA scientists sought to determine the level of melamine and related compounds in food that would not raise public health concerns. Here are their interim findings:

INFANT FORMULA

-- Scientists were "currently unable to establish any level of melamine and melamine-related compounds in infant formula that does not raise public health concerns."

-- In large part, that was due to gaps in scientific knowledge about the toxicity of melamine in infants.

-- Too much uncertainty remains to set a level to rule out any public health concern. That does not mean, however, that any exposure to any detectable level of melamine and related compounds will harm infants.

OTHER FOOD PRODUCTS

-- Levels of melamine and related compounds below 2.5 parts per million "do not raise concerns."

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Maggie Fox and Bill Trott)

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