Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Melamine hysteria #2

So the saga continues with a report in My Paper (8/10/2008, p A3, A8) on barcodes and countries of origins of food products. Groan.....! Why are they missing the point?? I mean, nobody produces things, including food products, using raw materials from only one country! It's really naive to incriminate only food produce that originates from China. For one thing I can imagine any other other country resorting to the same melamine cheating if they are trying to sell their milk substitutes globally. They just never got found out. Correspondingly food industries all over the world source for the cheapest milk substitutes for their factories. China got into trouble because it is arguably the world's cheapest and biggest supplier of these contaminated milk substitutes. They got found out because their own children consumed the most of these contaminated milk products. The point is no one can be certain, just by looking at the country of manufacture of milk and related products, that what they are consuming is free from contamination. What is critically important though, is for our AVA to screen all such products on the shelves to ensure the levels of melamine/analogues do not exceed tolerable limits. We won't even ask why this screening was not preemptive, but only undertaken in reaction to the scandal.

Which brings me to the next point. In TODAY (8/10/2008, p 27) a reader wrote to ask if AVA assays cyanuric acid as well as melamine. She has a good point. This is one of the reasons why FDA uses measures for melamine + analogues rather than just melamine, because it is not just melamine causing the problems. She shares my view that the AVA has been rather tardy in providing information that the public needs.

C'mon AVA, stop treating us like children!! You are otherwise doing a good job, but why this shroud of secrecy? Come clean and tell us what is happening. What products have you screened so far (TODAY (4/10/2008, p 27) ?...and what have you found? What are your benchmarks for acceptability with respect to melamine + analogues/cyanuric acid. I think we deserve better.

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