December 10, 2008


WHO meeting establishes permissible levels for melamine

International experts in a World Health Organisation (WHO) meeting have established a tolerable daily intake (TDI) for melamine, the industrial chemical that was in the centre of the recent tainted milk products scandal.


The new TDI for melamine has been set at 0.2 mg/kg body weight. Based on this, it leads a 50 kg person to a tolerable amount of 10 mg melamine per day.


The new TDI is lower than previous TDI suggested for melamine by some national food safety authorities.


The new TDI is expected to better guide authorities in protecting public health, said WHO Director for Food Safety, Dr Jorgen Schlundt.


Limits for melamine in infant formula and in other foods set in other countries stand at 1 part per million and 2.5 part per million respectively, and will provide a sufficient margin of safety as compared to the TDI, said Dr. Schlundt.


Melamine is a contaminant that should not be in food but its presence is sometimes unavoidable. TDI is the tolerable amount of unavoidable contaminant in food that a person can ingest on a daily basis without potential health risk. The TDI is meant to help authorities to set safety limits in food for withdrawal purposes should melamine be detected due to intentional contamination.

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