Public health groups, consumer advocates and members of Congress blasted the Food and Drug Administration yesterday for failing to act after discovering trace amounts of the industrial chemical melamine in baby formula sold in the United States.
The FDA found melamine and cyanuric acid, a related chemical, in samples of baby formula made by major U.S. manufacturers. Melamine can cause kidney and bladder stones and, in worst cases, kidney failure and death. If melamine and cyanuric acid combine, they can form round yellow crystals that can also damage kidneys and destroy renal function.
Melamine was found in Good Start Supreme Infant Formula With Iron made by Nestle, and cyanuric acid was detected in Enfamil Lipil With Iron infant formula powder made by Mead Johnson. A spokesman for Nestle did not respond to repeated calls and e-mails for comment yesterday.
Gail Wood, a spokeswoman for Mead Johnson, said the company does not think that cyanuric acid poses a health threat to infants. "Cyanuric acid is approved by the FDA to sanitize processing equipment," she said. "The risks of not sanitizing equipment are far greater than ultra trace amounts of residual cyanuric acid found in the formula."
Agency scientists have maintained they could not set a safe level of melamine exposure for babies because they do not understand the effects of long-term exposure on a baby's developing kidneys. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that infant formula is a baby's sole source of food for many months. Premature infants absorb an especially large dose of the chemical, compared with full-term babies.
Breastfeed, peeps, breastfeed. They released this article on Thanksgiving Day. Not that they were trying to hide it or anything.