By the end of 2006, a sharp growth of acute renal failure problems occurred in animals was observed. In a very short period of time, there were more than 140 thousand cases reported. The investigation has found a connection between all the renal failure cases and the food. The contaminated pet food products that caused serious renal problems share one thing in common — wheat gluten imported from China. This batch of wheat gluten contains melamine. According to FDA (US), the chemical bonding of melamine (1,3,5-Triazine-2,4,6-triamine；C3H6N6, the chemical structure is shown in figure 1) and Cyanuric acid (1,3,5-triazinane-2,4,6-trione, the chemical structure is shown in figure 2) yields crystalline substances which may cause acute renal failures in animals.
Melamine is a white, odorless, crystalline N-heterocyclic organic base which is commonly used in paint, building materials, paper-making and textile industries. Melamine boards/paper and dinnerware are made from thermoplastic melamine. In some countries in Asia, it is also used to make pesticides and plant fertilizers.
|Figure 1, Chemical structure of Melamine||Figure 2, Chemical structure of Cyanuric acid||
Figure 3, chemical structure of the bonding of melamine and cyanuric acid
Nitrogen found in melamine creates potential misreading in Chemical analysis of proteins. Some crooked businessmen added even more nitrogen-containing melamine to confuse the chemical test reading. The FDA has discovered that the pet food manufacturers and material providers in China have added more melamine to pet food materials such as wheat glutens and rice glutens and then claimed their pet food products containing higher proteins. However, melamine, predominately from petrochemical industries, is high in nitrogen. Human body does not digest or break down melamine. If it is ingested in great amount, it may cause serious renal problems and may be lethal. It is no surprise to many that the products imported from China (PRC), in past few years, have aroused food safety concerns.
Melamine is actually a raw material for industrial use. The US has banned the use of melamine in human and animal food products. FDA claimed that there is no direct evidence to prove the connection of renal problems and ingestion of potentially contaminated chicken or pork. However, this does not put consumers at ease when it comes to the use of soybean or wheat gluten in food safety and the health concerns. The banning of melamine use in food products is still valid. FDA (US) has started the inspection of manufacturers’ production equipments and protein ingredients. I-Mei Foods Co. Ltd. follows rigorous ISO 9001 and GMP standards to manufacture soybean protein product line (i.e. imitation meat products for vegetarians). This provides consumers quality food and rid of food safety worries.
Some terms may be easily confused with melamine are melanin and melatonin. Melanin is the black pigment appears in human hair and skin. Melatonin is an endocrine produced by the pineal gland in human brain. It is also an anti-oxidant. Melatonin is able to hold the black pigments around the nucleus in human cells so the black pigment will not show through skin; hence, this makes the skin tone lighter. It is also used in sleep pattern regulations and eases the jet-lag syndromes found on some individuals.