Boo! All week long, the Eco Women will be posting about the environmental issues that scare them the most.
We first heard of melamine last year after thousands of dogs and cats became ill or died after eating tainted food from China. Then is past September, it was found in baby formula that sickened tens of thousands in China and killed four babies. Soon after, it was Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products that was recalled. In October, warnings were issued on White Rabbit Creamy Candy, which had been distributed to California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. Also around that time, Blue Cat Flavored Drink was recalled. Just two weeks ago, South Korea reported processed egg product that was imported from China as being contaminated with melamine and they are now expanding their testing with meat products also imported from China. The melamine found in food was probably used because it causes milk to appear as though it is higher in protein.
First of all, what is melamine you ask? Melamine is an organic compound that is usually combined with formaldehyde to make a melamine resin or synthetic polymer that is heat tolerant and fire resistant. It is used to make floor tiles, whiteboards, dishes, and plates, to name a few. Dishes made with melamine are often those with licensed characters on them. It is not recommended that you microwave these dishes. The FDA has stated that melamine in small doses is safe — sounds like what they’ve said about BPA recently and we all know the controversy over that, right? This Green Mommy is going to play it safe, though, and just avoid it as best as she can. To see a list of melamine-free children’s dishware, visit SafeMama.
How can you avoid melamine when it comes to food? Well, it’s slightly easier as of September 30, 2008, and also confusing. As of this date, here’s a list of foods that will have the country of origin labeled clearly on the packaging:
- raw beef
- wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish
- fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables
- peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts
- whole ginseng
Here’s what won’t be labeled:
- processed foods — Raw chicken, yes, but breaded chicken fingers, no. Fresh or frozen peas, yes, but canned, no.
- mixed foods — Frozen peas, yes. Frozen peas and carrots, no.
- meat and seafood sold in butcher shops and fish markets
So better health is the same as it always was — eat fresh foods as much as possible and avoid the processed ones. Just cross your fingers that it’s not tainted with e-coli.