Melamine consumption common in small doses, study suggests

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Melamine

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A team of Taiwanese researchers found that people eating hot soup out of bowls containing melamine had spiked amounts of the chemical in their urine. The researchers say more needs to be done to find out the long-term results of melamine consumption.

Melamine, a flame-retardant that made headlines five years ago in a worldwide formula scare, may be brought back into the public eye after a study by Taiwanese researchers. The study showed that those who ate hot soup out of bowls made with melamine had higher amounts of the chemical show up in their urine just hours later. The findings were published in the Jan. 21 edition of JAMA Internal Medicine.

Sixteen healthy men and women were asked to eat a bowl of hot soup. Some ate out of ceramic bowls while others used bowls that contained melamine. Researchers collected a baseline urine sample before participants ate the soup and collected a sample every two hours for a 12-hour period after eating the soup.

The result showed that those people who used the melamine bowls had more melamine in their urine than normal in the samples collected in the four and six-hour windows. The amount then decreased drastically before the next sample after eight hours. On average, those who had the melamine bowls had 8.35 micrograms of melamine in their urine compared to 1.31 micrograms in those who used the ceramic bowls.

Melamine is used to coat plastic products in order to make them less susceptible to fire. The chemical was all over headlines in 2008 when it was found in baby formula after a Chinese manufacturer added it to its mix to override tests that were looking for protein. The melamine-augmented formula led to the sickness of 300,000 children and the death of six infants. The chemical has been known to cause kidney stones, kidney failure and even cancer in some animal studies.

The head of the study said there’s no information on what exactly urinary concentration of melamine may mean. But the findings suggest that more needs to be done to understand what long-term exposure to the chemical, even in trace amounts, could mean.

Dr. Kenneth Spaeth told CBSNews.com that melamine could be released if food is acidic, when serving hot food or reheated food. He said while telling people to avoid melamine altogether would be an overreaction, the higher levels shown in the study is a reason for more research.

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1 comments
Kim kim
Kim kim

Noted: there are low quality melamine/fake melamine that thinner and lighter than food grade melamine from China. I want to know what kind of melamine this Taiwanese researcher use.

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