December 8, 2008


China's melamine limit meets WHO requirements



China's limits for melamine in baby milk food and other dairy products will not be changed as it met the official levels by the latest World Health Organization (WHO). 


Taking 10 milligrams of melamine a day is not harmful for a person who weighs 50 kilograms, according to WHO's "tolerable daily intake" (TDI) released in Ottawa, Canada, on December 6.


The TDI for melamine, set at 0.2 mg per kg body weight by international experts, is lower than previous limits suggested by some countries' food safety authorities, a statement on the WHO website said.


WHO's Director of Food Safety Jurgen Schlundt said the melamine levels is seen to guide the authorities in protecting the health of the public.


Chen Junshi, a senior researcher with the National Institute for Nutrition and Food Safety said that WHO's daily limit is a "guideline for all countries to control their melamine standards". It means normal people can consume up to 10 mg melamine a day without any harmful effects, he said.


China's existing limit is therefore safe, he added.


The government has set a melamine limit of 1 mg a kg for infant milk food and 2.5 mg a kg for other dairy products in October after the melamine-contaminated milk food scandal. Yang Jianhong, a member of Dairy Association of China, said the TDI "is scientific because it gives a tolerable level based on people's body weight".


In early October, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said 2.5 mg of melamine in 1 kg of milk product would not cause health problems, but baby milk food exported to the US must be free of melamine.


Later, the FDA said baby milk food could contain up to 1 part per million (or 1 mg in 1 kg) of melamine, the same level set by China, after traces of melamine were reportedly found in the infant formula of a major US company and a related chemical, cyanuric acid, was detected in another big firm's product.
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