FDA/USDA: Melamine Poses Low Risk to Humans

After a risk assessment conducted by five federal agencies, it was determined that there is a “low risk” to human health from eating meat from animals who were given feed contaminated with melamine. Scientists from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) all participated in the investigation.

According to the report, even in the “most extreme risk-assessment scenario,” the level of potential exposure was way below “any level of public health concern.” The team of scientists is now conducting further analysis to determine the effects that melamine contaminated pet food has on animal health. The FDA and USDA plans to create a scientific advisory board of experts to assist in their ongoing investigation.

Possibly hundreds or even thousands of cats and dogs have been sickened or killed in recent months by eating pet food contaminated with melamine. The contamination has been traced back to supplies of wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate imported from China. Concern had grown in recent weeks about the potential contamination of the human food supply after it was discovered that thousands of hogs and chickens had been fed <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/food_poisoning">contaminated products.

However, according to the FDA, the scraps of contaminated pet food given to swine and poultry “constituted only a small percentage of the farm animal rations.” “When exposure levels are much higher, as was the case with cats and dogs,” they explain, “the melamine and its compounds appear to cause the formation of crystals in the kidney systems, resulting in kidney damage. There was no indication of kidney damage in hogs. Both hogs and chickens known to have been fed contaminated feed appear to be healthy.”

This “dilution factor,” as the FDA calls it, “helps to support the conclusion that there is very low risk to human health from eating meat from animals that were fed the contaminated product.” The latest findings reinforce the FDA’s decision not to recall any meat from store shelves and distributors, and the agency is also allowing any animals whose feed samples tested negative for melamine to be released from quarantine and made available for processing. All animals whose feed samples tested positive for melamine will continue to be held pending the results of the ongoing animal-health risk assessment.

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