April 15, 2010


Eggs from chickens with melamine in their feed found safe


Eggs from chickens that consumed excessive levels of melamine in their feed still did not contain levels of the potentially toxic contaminant that exceeded US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limits.


Liying Zhang and colleagues noted that melamine, which is used to make certain plastics, triggered a public health controversy in 2008 when certain food manufacturers in China illegally added it to milk powder to distort the protein content. Authorities have since found extremely high levels of melamine in eggs from chickens eating feed contaminated with the substance. However, scientists did not know how much melamine might accumulate in eggs from this process, until now.


In an effort to establish a scientific basis for determining the risk, Zhang's group gave melamine-contaminated feed to egg-laying hens and found that increasing amounts of the chemical in feed resulted in increasing amounts in the eggs. However, none of the melamine concentrations in the eggs exceeded the FDA's maximum allowable level - 2.5 parts per million (ppm) in foods. The highest levels of melamine in the feed, about 100 ppm, resulted in egg contamination levels of about 1.45 ppm. The scientists suggest that melamine contamination levels in feed that fall below 100 ppm would not result in potential hazards for food safety.

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