Written By technology factory on Tuesday, 8 November 2011 | 17:55
Melamine is a chemical that has been put into many different brands of milk powder and child formula in China. Since it has similar chemical characteristics to protein, manufacturers have been using it to raise the protein levels in their milk to make them more attractive purchases for consumers.
The base of the organic compound of melamine has the chemical formula C3H6N6. It has a very high nitrogen level, which can give it similar molecular characteristics to protein. Because of this, nutrition tests would describe the milk as having more protein an therefore being more healthy.
In 2004, more than 12 Chinese children died because they were fed formula that had minimal nutritional content. Furthermore, in 2007, melamine was found to be in dog food in the U.S. that had been exported from China. It created a scandal because it was blamed for killing thousands of U.S. pets.
Melamine has been put into many different brands of milk powder in China. The China-based company Sanlu has recalled all of its milk powder. Twenty-two other brands, however, also were found to have melamine contamination after this scandal broke out. Only one case has been reported outside of mainland China. This involved a 3-year-old girl from Hong Kong who was hospitalized (but recovered) after significant melamine consumption.
According to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) about it, melamine is "harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Chronic exposure may cause cancer or reproductive damage. Eye, skin and respiratory irritant." High exposure to melamine has been seen to cause kidney of bladder stones. It also has been linked to bladder cancer and acute kidney failure. Since it's mainly used in baby formula, only infants have so far been found affected by this chemical. Long-term use of about six months is enough to be toxic for infants. Six infants have died from ingestion of it, and more than 300,000 have gotten ill from it.
Two men are currently facing a death sentence for their involvement with melamine. The head of the Sanlu company has been sentenced to life in prison. Nineteen other men have been tried and given various sentences for their involvement with putting melamine in milk products.
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