Study reveals food contaminated by serving bowls toxin in hot foods

  • January 24, 2013
  • Rebecca Kannourakis

A study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine has revealed melamine is being released into hot food from many serving bowls.

The study involved otherwise healthy adult participants consuming hot food from melamine bowls and ceramic bowls. The urine of the adults was then examined for melamine traces, as excreted levels indicate the total amount of the chemical ingested. The results show the residue from the toxic chemical is much larger when consumed from melamine bowls compared to ceramic bowls.

The authors, Wu et al, noted that their study only used one brand of melamine tableware and therefore the amount of melamine released in food and beverages may vary between brands. They also did not suggest if these levels of melamine were capable of impacting health.

Melamine is commonly incorporated into bowls and containers for domestic use. The chemical has been extensively examined by regulatory agencies such as WHO, who have published reviews containing estimates of ‘Tolerable Daily Intake’ (TDI) which would not pose any risk to consumers.

Emeritus Professor of Toxicology from the University of London, Professor Tony Dayan said that formal review estimates of TDI range from 0.63 to 0.2mg/kg/day for adults and the new report suggests that an intake of the chemical from 500mL hot soup in melamine resin bowls may result in the urinary excretion of melamine up to 8.35μg/day.

“The amounts now demonstrated seem small in relation to what is generally accepted as a tolerable daily dose. The new information does not suggest a major new risk factor”, said Professor Dayan.

Dr Ian Musgrave from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Adelaide said “the study suggests that even with a melamine ware that has a very high level of melamine leaching, the level of melamine exposure that results may have very minor health impacts, if any at all.”

“However, the fact that even small amounts of melamine can leach from these ubiquitous food containers at high temperatures should make us cautious”, he added.

Dr Musgrave referred to the past melamine milk contamination in China which resulted in children dying or developing kidney problems. While he said the levels of melamine that caused these health issues were much higher than those likely to be consumed in a normal diet, the long term consumption of lower levels may nevertheless increase the risk of kidney problems.

 


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