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Not that I want to scare the crap out of you guys, but when a company thinks something is "harmless", they fail to report what that product can really do to your body. Here I will present Melamine, from the popular China Milk Scandal (and Pet Food as well) and Tartrazine, a very popular food coloring additive found in a vast majority of processed food out there.
The following information came from Wikipedia.
Melamine is an organic base and a trimer of cyanamide, with a 1,3,5-triazine skeleton. Like cyanamide, it contains 66% nitrogen by mass and, if mixed with resins, has fire retardant properties due to its release of nitrogen gas when burned or charred, and has several other industrial uses. Melamine is also a metabolite of cyromazine, a pesticide. It is formed in the body of mammals who have ingested cyromazine. It has been reported that cyromazine can also be converted to melamine in plants.
Melamine complexes with cyanuric acid to form melamine cyanurate, which has been implicated in the Chinese protein export contaminations.
The German word Melamin was coined by combining the names of two other chemical products: Melam (a distillation derivative of ammonium thiocyanate) and Amin.
Melamine is combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin, a very durable thermosetting plastic, and melamine foam, a polymeric cleaning product.
The end products include countertops, dry erase boards, fabrics, glues, housewares and flame retardants. Melamine is one of the major components in Pigment Yellow 150, a colorant in inks and plastics.
Melamine also enters the fabrication of melamine poly-sulfonate used as superplasticizer for making high-resistance concrete. Sulfonated melamine formaldehyde (SMF) is a polymer used as cement admixture to reduce the water content in concrete while increasing the fluidity and the workability of the mix during its handling and pouring. It results in concrete with a lower porosity and a higher mechanical strength exhibiting an improved resistance to aggressive environments and a longer life-time.
The use of melamine as fertilizer for crops had been envisaged during the '50s and '60s because of its high nitrogen content (2/3). However, the hydrolysis reactions of melamine leading to the nitrogen mineralisation in soils are very slow, precluding a broad use of melamine as fertilizing agent.
Melamine derivatives of arsenical drugs are potentially important in the treatment of African trypanosomiasis
Melamine use as non-protein nitrogen (NPN) for cattle was described in a 1958 patent. In 1978, however, a study concluded that melamine "may not be an acceptable non-protein N source for ruminants" because its hydrolysis in cattle is slower and less complete than other nitrogen sources such as cottonseed meal and urea.
Melamine is sometimes illegally added to food products in order to increase the apparent protein content. Standard tests such as the Kjeldahl and Dumas tests estimate protein levels by measuring the nitrogen content, so they can be misled by adding nitrogen-rich compounds such as melamine.
Melamine by itself is nontoxic in low doses, but when combined with cyanuric acid it can cause fatal kidney stones due to the formation of an insoluble melamine cyanurate. Melamine is described as being "Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Chronic exposure may cause cancer or reproductive damage. Eye, skin and respiratory irritant.” However, the toxic dose is on a par with common table salt with an LD50 of more than 3 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. FDA scientists explained that when melamine and cyanuric acid are absorbed into the bloodstream, they concentrate and interact in the urine-filled renal microtubules, then crystallize and form large numbers of round, yellow crystals, which in turn block and damage the renal cells that line the tubes, causing the kidneys to malfunction.
Melamine is reported to have an oral LD50 of 3248 mg/kg based on rat data. It is also an irritant when inhaled or in contact with the skin or eyes. The reported dermal LD50 is >1000 mg/kg for rabbits. In a 1945 study, large doses of melamine were given orally to rats, rabbits and dogs with "no significant toxic effects" observed.
A study by USSR researchers in the 1980s suggested that melamine cyanurate, commonly used as a fire retardant, could be more toxic than either melamine or cyanuric acid alone. For rats and mice, the reported LD50 for melamine cyanurate was 4.1 g/kg (given inside the stomach) and 3.5 g/kg (via inhalation), compared to 6.0 and 4.3 g/kg for melamine and 7.7 and 3.4 g/kg for cyanuric acid, respectively.
A toxicology study conducted after recalls of contaminated pet food concluded that the combination of melamine and cyanuric acid in diet does lead to acute renal failure in cats.
Ingestion of melamine may lead to reproductive damage, or bladder or kidney stones, which can lead to bladder cancer.
A study in 1953 reported that dogs fed 3% melamine for a year had the following changes in their urine: (1) reduced specific gravity, (2) increased output, (3) melamine crystalluria, and (4) protein and occult blood.
A survey commissioned by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians suggested that crystals formed in the kidneys melamine combined with cyanuric acid, "don't dissolve easily. They go away slowly, if at all, so there is the potential for chronic toxicity."
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a test method for analyzing cyromazine and melamine in animal tissues in its Chemistry Laboratory Guidebook which "contains test methods used by FSIS Laboratories to support the Agency's inspection program, ensuring that meat, poultry, dairy and egg products are safe, wholesome and accurately labeled." In 1999, in a proposed rule published in the Federal Register regarding cyromazine residue, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed "removing melamine, a metabolite of cyromazine from the tolerance expression since it is no longer considered a residue of concern."
Melamine, classified a controlled substance in China, has been illegally used in the high profile 2008 baby milk scandal case which led to the death of at least 4 infants.
On October 3, 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that up to 2.5 parts per million of melamine was safe for adults, but declined to set a standard for children. The FDA also implied it would not permit the sale of food deliberately adulterated (rather than accidentally contaminated) with melamine.
Melamine was first synthesized by the German chemist Justus von Liebig in 1834. In early production, first calcium cyanamide is converted into dicyandiamide, then heated above its melting temperature to produce melamine. However, today most industrial manufacturers use urea in the following reaction to produce melamine:
6 (NH2)2CO → C3H6N6 + 6 NH3 + 3 CO2
It can be understood as two steps.
First, urea decomposes into cyanic acid and ammonia in an endothermic reaction:
6 (NH2)2CO → 6 HCNO + 6 NH3
Then, cyanic acid polymerizes to form melamine and carbon dioxide:
6 HCNO → C3H6N6 + 3 CO2
The second reaction is exothermic but the overall process is endothermic.
The above reaction can be carried out by either of two methods: catalyzed gas-phase production or high pressure liquid-phase production. In one method, molten urea is introduced onto a fluidized bed with catalyst for reaction. Hot ammonia gas is also present to fluidize the bed and inhibit deammonization. The effluent then is cooled. Ammonia and carbon dioxide in the off-gas are separated from the melamine-containing slurry. The slurry is further concentrated and crystallized to yield melamine. Major manufacturers and licensors such as DSM, BASF and Eurotecnica have developed some proprietary methods.
The off-gas contains large amounts of ammonia. Therefore melamine production is often integrated into urea production which uses ammonia as feedstock.
Crystallization and washing of melamine generates a considerable amount of waste water, which is a pollutant if discharged directly into the environment. The waste water may be concentrated into a solid (1.5-5% of the weight) for easier disposal. The solid may contain approximately 70% melamine, 23% oxytriazines (ammeline, ammelide and cyanuric acid), 0.7% polycondensates (melem, melam and melon).
Recent production of melamine in mainland China
Between the late 1990s and early 2000s, both consumption and production of melamine grew considerably in mainland China. In the United States Geological Survey 2004 Minerals Survey Yearbook, in a report on worldwide nitrogen production, the author stated that "(mainland) China continued to plan and construct new ammonia and urea plants using coal gasification technology."
By early 2006, melamine production in mainland China is reported to be in "serious surplus". In April 2007, DSM's melamine industry update painted a grave global picture. Between 2002 and 2007, while the global melamine price remained stable, a steep increase in the price of urea (feedstock for melamine) has reduced the profitability of melamine manufacturing. Currently, China is the world's largest exporter of melamine, while its domestic consumption still grows by 10% per year. However, reduced profit has already caused other joint melamine ventures to be postponed there.
Poisoning and kidney failure caused by melamine cyanurate
2007 Animal feed recalls
In 2007 a pet food recall was initiated by Menu Foods and other pet food manufacturers who had found their products had been contaminated and caused serious illnesses or deaths in some of the animals that had eaten them. In March 2007, the US Food and Drug Administration reported finding white granular melamine in the pet food, in samples of white granular wheat gluten imported from a single source in China, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology as well as in crystalline form in the kidneys and in urine of affected animals. Further vegetable protein imported from China was later implicated.
In April 2007, The New York Times reported that the addition of "melamine scrap" into fish and livestock feed to give the false appearance of a higher level of protein was an "open secret" in many parts of mainland China, reporting that this melamine scrap was being produced by at least one plant processing coal into melamine. Four days later, the New York Times reported that, despite the widely reported ban on melamine use in vegetable proteins in mainland China, at least some chemical manufacturers continued to report selling it for use in animal feed and in products for human consumption. Li Xiuping, a manager at Henan Xinxiang Huaxing Chemical in Henan Province, stated, "Our chemical products are mostly used for additives, not for animal feed. Melamine is mainly used in the chemical industry, but it can also be used in making cakes." Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical Group, the company reported by the New York Times as producing melamine from coal, produces and sells both urea and melamine but does not list melamine resin as a product.
Another recall incident in 2007 involved melamine which had been purposely added as a binder to fish and livestock feed manufactured in the United States. This was traced to suppliers in Ohio and Colorado.
2008 Chinese milk scandal
In September 2008, several companies were implicated in a scandal involving milk and infant formula which had been adulterated with melamine, leading to kidney stones and other renal failure, especially among young children. By 22 September, nearly 53,000 people had become ill, with more than 12,800 hospitalizations and four infant deaths.
Melamine may have been added to fool government protein content tests after water was added to fraudulently dilute the milk. Because of melamine's high nitrogen content, it can cause the protein content of food to appear higher than the true value. Officials estimate that about 20 percent of the dairy companies tested in China sell products tainted with melamine.
Testing for melamine and cyanuric acid in food
Until the 2007 pet food recalls, melamine had not routinely been monitored in food, except in the context of plastic safety or insecticide residue. This could be due to the previously assumed low toxicity of melamine, and the relatively expensive methods of detection.
Because melamine resin is often used in food packaging and tableware, melamine at ppm level (1 part per million) in food and beverage has been reported due to migration from melamine-containing resins. Small amounts of melamine have also been reported in foodstuff as a metabolite product of cyromazine, an insecticide used on animals and crops.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a test method for analyzing cyromazine and melamine in animal tissues. In 2007, the FDA began using a high performance liquid chromatography test to determine the melamine, ammeline, ammelide, and cyanuric acid contamination in food. Another procedure is based on surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS).
Tartrazine (otherwise known as E number E102 or FD&C Yellow 5 or C.I. 19140) is a synthetic lemon yellow azo dye used as a food coloring. It is water soluble and has a maximum absorbance in an aqueous solution at 427±2 nm.
Tartrazine is a very commonly used color all over the world - mainly because it is one of the least expensive synthetic colors - obviously used for yellow, but can also be used with Brilliant Blue FCF (FD&C Blue 1, E133) or Green S (E142) to produce various green shades.
Products containing tartrazine
Many foods contain tartrazine in varying proportions, depending on the manufacturer or the cook in charge, although nowadays the trend is to avoid it or substitute a non-synthetic dyeing substance such as annatto, malt color, or betacarotene (see Sensitivities & Intolerance, below).
Products including tartrazine commonly include confectionery, cotton candy, soft drinks, instant puddings, flavored chips (Doritos, Nachos, etc), cereals (corn flakes, muesli, etc.), cake mixes, pastries, custard powder, soups (particularly instant or "cube" soups), sauces, some rices (like paella, risotto, etc.), Kool-Aid, Mountain Dew, Gatorade, ice cream, ice lollies, candy, chewing gum, marzipan, jam, jelly, gelatins, marmalade, mustard, horseradish, yogurt, noodles, pickles and other pickled products, certain brands of fruit squash, fruit cordial, chips, tim tams, and many convenience foods together with glycerin, lemon and honey
Soaps, cosmetics, shampoos and other hair products, moisturizers, crayons and stamp dyes.
Vitamins, antacids, medicinal capsules and certain prescription drugs.
Sensitivities and intolerance
Tartrazine appears to cause the most allergic and intolerance reactions of all the azo dyes, particularly among asthmatics and those with an aspirin intolerance. Symptoms from tartrazine sensitivity can occur by either ingestion or cutaneous exposure to a substance containing tartrazine.
A variety of immunologic responses have been attributed to tartrazine ingestion, including anxiety, migraines, clinical depression, blurred vision, itching, general weakness, heatwaves, feeling of suffocation, purple skin patches, and sleep disturbance.
Some claim[weasel words] to experience symptoms of tartrazine sensitivity even at extremely small doses, and up to 72 hours after exposure. In children, asthma attacks and hives have been claimed, as well as supposed links to thyroid tumors, chromosomal damage, and hyperactivity.
The mechanism of sensitivity is obscure and has been called pseudoallergic. The prevalence of tartrazine intolerance is estimated at roughly 360,000 Americans affected, about 0.12% of the general population. According to the FDA, tartrazine causes hives in fewer than 1 in 10,000 people, or 0.01%.
Some researchers[weasel words] have linked tartrazine to childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder and hyperactivity.
It is not clear to what extent these problems can be specifically linked to tartrazine in affected individuals. The existence of a sensitivity reaction is well-known, but the existence of more extreme effects remain controversial. The incidence of tartrazine intolerance is fairly low as indicated above, and there is much controversy about whether tartrazine has ill effects on individuals who are not clearly intolerant.
Total avoidance is the most common way to deal with tartrazine sensitivity, but progress has been made in reducing people’s tartrazine sensitivity in a study of people who are simultaneously sensitive to both aspirin and tartrazine.
Possible health effects
On 6 September 2007, the British Food Standards Agency revised advice on certain artificial food additives, including E102.
Professor Jim Stevenson from Southampton University, and author of the report, said: "This has been a major study investigating an important area of research. The results suggest that consumption of certain mixtures of artificial food colours and sodium benzoate preservative are associated with increases in hyperactive behaviour in children.
"However, parents should not think that simply taking these additives out of food will prevent hyperactive disorders. We know that many other influences are at work but this at least is one a child can avoid."
The following additives were tested in the research:
Sunset yellow (E110) - Coloring found in squash drinks
Carmoisine (E122) - Red coloring in jellies
Tartrazine (E102) - New coloring in lollies, fizzy drinks
Ponceau 4R (E124) - Red coloring
Sodium benzoate (E211) - Preservative
Quinoline yellow (E104) - Food coloring
Allura red AC (E129) - Orange / red food dye
On 10 April 2008, the Food Standards Agency called for a voluntary removal of the colors (but not sodium benzoate) by 2009. In addition, it recommended that there should be action to phase them out in food and drink in the European Union (EU) over a specified period.
The EFSA (European Food Standards Agency) has reviewed the Southampton Study and found the tests inconclusive and recommended no action in the EU pending further studies on colorants.
Dr. Ben Feingold implicated this colorant in a 1973 hypothesis on hyperactivity, but was cleared of this effect after extensive testing by the colorant
manufacturing industry.
Because of the problem of tartrazine intolerance, the United States requires the presence of tartrazine to be declared on food and drug products (21 CFR 74.1705, 21 CFR 201.20) and also the color batch used to be pre-approved by the FDA. The FDA regularly seizes products found to be containing undeclared tartrazine or if declared but not tested by them or even if labelled other than FD&C yellow 5, these have often included Chinese "egg noodles."
The use of tartrazine is banned in Norway, and was also banned in Austria and Germany until the ban was overturned by a European Union directive.
The United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency called in April 2008 for a voluntary phase-out of tartrazine along with five other colorings, due to a reported link with hyperactivity in children.
Organic foods typically use beta carotene as an additive when yellow color is desired and more use has been made of annatto (E160b) for non-organic foods.
Rumors began circulating about Yellow 5 in the 1990s regarding a link to its consumption and adverse affects on male potency, testicle and penis size and sperm count. There are no documented cases supporting the claim that Yellow 5 will shrink a man's penis or cause it to stop growing.
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