Manufacturing News

FSIS checking retail stores for melamine

Because of the numerous incidents of melamine contaminations reported in North America by Canada’s CFIA and the US FDA and USDA, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) decided to conduct random testing of meat and poultry products in the US  with samples obtained directly from retail shelves. Notice was sent to investigators from the Compliance and Investigations Division (CID) and Office of Program Evaluation, Enforcement and Review (OPEER), instructing them how to collect these samples.

According to FSIS, melamine and its three analogues, cyanuric acid, ammelide and ammeline referred to as melamine compounds (MC), are found in foods because of industrial environmental contamination; alleged fraudulent addition of industrial MC to foods; and its production as a metabolite of cyromazine, which is used as an insecticide. Mixtures of industrial source MC, most notably melamine and cyanuric acid, are more toxic than melamine alone. MC may be ubiquitous in nature at low levels because of its wide use.

FDA’s CFSAN estimates the average cumulative dietary concentration of melamine from approved food uses would be less than 0.015 ppm, but FDA hasn’t yet intended this to be an estimate of the acceptable maximum level of melamine. FDA established in its recent safety/risk assessment that in all foods except infant formula, levels of MC below 2.5 ppm do not raise public health concerns. For infant formula, FDA set the maximum at 1 ppm.

FSIS’s samplings will focus on meat and poultry products that contain milk-delivered ingredients such as non-fat dried milk, casein, whey, evaporated milk and milk powder. Specific retail products to undergo scrutiny include baby food (containing a significant amount of meat and poultry products), cooked sausages (including hot dogs and frankfurters with and without cheese), breaded chicken, meatballs and meat and poultry wrapped in dough and pizza.

Should a processor decide to test its own products for any of the MCs, there are a number of laboratories that can perform the necessary tests. One lab suggested that the purchase of chromatographic equipment sensitive enough to test for the low levels required by FDA and FSIS would range from roughly $300,000 to $400,000. Sending samples to a lab costs about $150, depending on the number of samples tested. An alternative would be to demand certifiable test results for MC levels in incoming supplier ingredients.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Plant of the Year 2015

Mars Chocolate was chosen as Food Engineering’s 2015 Plant of the Year. The first new Mars candy plant in North America in 35 years is not only LEED Gold certified, it’s highly automated as well.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering April 2015 Cover

2015 April

The April 2014 issue of Food Engineering features the Plant of the Year: Mars Chocolate. The first new Mars chocolate candy plant in North America in 35 years is not only LEED Gold certified, it’s highly automated as well.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Plant Facility/Site Issues

What issue about your current plant facility/site keeps you up the most at night?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Engineering Food Master 2015Food Master 2015 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.