FDA Deems Milk Contaminant Safe Despite Unknown Health Risks
Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive Director
WASHINGTON - "Today, the Food and Drug Administration condoned the intentional adulteration of food with melamine by issuing a risk assessment for the industrial chemical that was added to milk and milk-based ingredients produced in China. Instead of enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for this contaminant in food, FDA has instead set ‘acceptable' levels for how much melamine food can contain, despite uncertainty about what levels of exposure are likely and limited information on the chemical's human health effects.
"This latest attempt to define a safe level of exposure to an avoidable contaminant in food is part of a dangerous trend by FDA to set acceptable levels for unsafe and preventable food contaminants. The agency has said that a little Listeria monocytogenes is okay, even though the bacteria cause serious illness in vulnerable populations such as the elderly and pregnant women. It has said that a little Bisphenol A (BPA) is okay, despite a growing body of scientific evidence to the contrary. Now, it is saying that a little melamine is okay, even when other countries have banned or recalled dairy products containing any amount of this chemical.
"Instead of wasting money on a public relations campaign to try to repair its image, FDA should be hiring more inspectors to protect consumers from tainted foods, whether they are imported or domestic. Unfortunately, at this point it seems that FDA is more concerned with promoting imports than protecting consumers. It is time for FDA to follow the lead of countries around the world that have taken precautionary steps to protect their citizens by banning imports of Chinese dairy products and processed foods that contain Chinese milk ingredients."