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FDA Withdraws Chinese Products Containing Melamine from the Market

Por Violeta Chacón, Nutrition Counselor, MyDiet™ -

Are you a coffee and tea consumer? Make sure you carefully select the brands of the products you buy. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently warned about the use of instant coffee and milk tea (milk-based tea) products of the Chinese brand “Mr. Brown.” The reason: contamination with a chemical compound known as melamine.

Melamine is a nitrogen-based chemical compound traditionally used in the fabrication of plastic products, such as countertops. In Asian countries, melamine is also used as a fertilizer. Some food industries have added it to wheat flour and other foods to alter their protein content.

During quality control processes conducted by food industries, several tests are performed to determine the amount of each nutrient in a specific food product. To estimate the amount of protein, most tests quantify nitrogen. Melamine often reacts during these tests, so it may seem as if the product has more protein than it actually does.  

There are currently no human studies analyzing the adverse effects of melamine. However, there are studies on animals that indicate ingestion of melamine can promote the formation of kidney stones, alter the production of urine, and even lead to kidney failure and death.

The FDA has been working with food security agencies in different countries. In New Zealand, melamine contamination of candies (“White Rabbit Creamy Candies”) was reported, leading to the withdrawal of these products from the market.

No adverse side effects have been reported due to the use of foods containing melamine. However, the FDA recommends contacting a healthcare provider immediately if any unusual symptoms appear after eating foods that contain melamine.

For more information, visit the FDA official website:



FDA report: Updates Health Information Advisory on Melamine Contamination. Retrieved on September 26, 2008 from:

World Health Organization Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response Media Centre. Retrieved on September 26, 2008 from:


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