Baku, July 14 (AZERTAC). The maximum amount of melamine allowed in powdered infant formula is 1 mg/kg and the amount of the chemical allowed in other foods and animal feed is 2.5 mg/kg, according to new rulings from the United Nations` food standards body, Codex Alimentarius Commission.
Melamine is a chemical used in a variety of industrial processes - including the manufacture of plastics used for dishware and kitchenware, and can coatings - and traces of it unavoidably get into food by contact without causing health problems.
However the substance is toxic at high levels. Such levels of melamine were found recently in infant formula, milk powder and pet food due to its deliberate and illegal addition to increase the apparent protein content of these products. Babies and children died as a result and hundreds of thousands became seriously ill.
"Establishment of maximum levels will help governments differentiate between low levels of unavoidable melamine occurrence that do not cause health problems, and deliberate adulteration - thereby protecting public health without unnecessary impediments to international trade" said Martijn Weijtens, Chair of the Codex Committee on contaminants in foods. While not legally binding the new levels allow countries to refuse to allow the importation of products with excessive levels of melamine.
The 33rd Session of Codex Alimentarius Commission was attended by 500 delegates from about 130 countries.