Euphoria’s Blog for Green Mamas

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Toxic Tableware and Tainted Formula: Melamine’s Back in the Hot Seat June 18, 2009

Filed under: Baby & Toddler — Rachel @ 4:59 pm
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“Last fall thousands of babies in China were hospitalized after drinking formula contaminated with melamine. Shortly thereafter, melamine contaminated foods were popping up all over the globe, from cookies in the UK to candy in Connecticut. The issue really hit home when the US FDA found American infant formulas tainted with the contaminant in late November. Parents were outraged. For a while. And then the issue just seemed to drop off the radar.

But it’s back.

Canadian health officials just found, once again, infant formula contaminated with melamine. And their theory of where that contamination is coming from is rather unexpected. According to Science News:

Chemists with Health Canada in Ottawa report they have yet to identify the source of the pollutant they’ve just turned up in 71 of 94 samples of infant formula. In a report of their findings, however, just published online ahead of print in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Sheryl Tittlemier and her colleagues do finger one key suspect: the insecticide cyromazine. It’s legal for use on food crops and animal forage — and melamine is one of its breakdown products.

So, the milk is tainted because the cows are tainted because the food the cows are eating is sprayed with a pesticide that breaks down into melamine. It makes a pretty good argument for organic dairy farming.

Still, it is important to note that the melamine levels detected were far below levels both the FDA and Health Canada have established as safe. In fact, Tittlemier’s group calculated that a baby’s ingestion of melamine would only come to about 1 percent of the allowable intake even if consuming the most contaminated product.

But this is just one source of exposure.

On the other side of the globe, melamine tableware is causing a stir with public health officials. According to The China Post:

In [a] recent experiment, all tableware made of melamine resin tested positive for melamine release, Wang said, warning that consumers should not use such products for hot food or for microwaving. Wang also urged melamine tableware manufacturers to clearly label their products with the warning that they “should not be used in microwave ovens, ” and to remind consumers not to use them for hot food or drink..”

The Taiwan News picked up on the story, as well, stating:

“Melamine levels in the plates, bowls and spoons reached values as high as 20 parts per million, far higher levels than recorded in foods…In daily use, the toxic can be released when the material comes in contact with hot food such as soup or when it is scratched.”

While it has been known for some time that melamine leaches from the plastic resin, the levels they’ve found are very concerning. And, even though it’s happening half way around the world, consider where many of our consumer goods come from.

Simultaneously, The Jakarta Globe in Indonesia just released a report regarding formaldehyde leaching from melamine tableware (formaldehyde is the other chemical combined with melamine to make the plastic resin). According to them:

Health officials warned on Monday that tableware made with melamine resin may release formaldehyde, a potential health hazard, under certain conditions. 
Roland Hutapea, the BPOM’s director for hazardous substance control, said long-term exposure to formaldehyde could cause kidney failure, bladder damage and cancer, and could eventually lead to death. “The safest way for now, as we still have no way to guarantee product safety, is to avoid using any melamine [resin] tableware with heat, acid or water,” he said. Husniah said that without a lab test, it was almost impossible to differentiate safe tableware from products that might release formaldehyde.

As I said back in the fall when we covered this issue

”At Healthy Child, we simply and fundamentally believe it’s better to be safe than sorry – especially when the exposure is completely unnecessary. If you have melamine dishes for your kids, perhaps it’s time to retire them to the pretend kitchen play set, a decorative shelf on the wall, the craft supplies cupboard, the bath tub, or the sandbox. Opt for dishware that is made from glass, ceramic, bamboo, stainless steel, or safer plastics (which I’m starting to question even exist).”

What about the formula? It doesn’t seem quite as worrisome as the tableware since the levels are so low. But, organic dairy clearly appears to be a safer farming method for producing a cleaner product. Unfortunately, the recession is crippling the organic dairy industry and farms are folding across the country.  Vote with your dollar to keep organic dairy farms afloat. Buy organic milk.”

Courtesy of Healthy Child Healthy World: a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit inspiring parents to protect young children from harmful chemicals.

If you’re ready to replace your plastic or melamine children’s dishes with something completely non-toxic, I can recommend our tempered glass dishwear from Kidishes, available at EuphoriaBaby.com.  We’ve been using them at home, and they’re so convenient.   In the dishwasher, microwave and at the table, they wear and wash so well!

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Made in China October 22, 2008

Filed under: Baby & Toddler,Pregnancy — Rachel @ 7:32 am
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If you’re pregnant or nursing, you’re well aware that what you put in your body has the power to nurture or harm your baby.  Do you buy products Made in China?

The recent melamine scandal has given Americans one more reason to worry about the safety of products Made in China.   If you missed it, authorities found melamine in Chinese infant formula and milk products, which caused the deaths of four Chinese babies, the sickening of 54,000 Chinese babies and recalls world-wide of many international products that are made with Chinese milk (Cadburry chocolates, Nabisco Ritz cheese crackers and Lipton Green Tea). 

There has been a growing concern amongst American consumers about products Made in China, and for good reason.  It is sad, but true that China does not have a good track record.  According to this article in The International Herald Tribune:

“Chinese products have been failing food inspections for years. Hundreds of Chinese shipments have been stopped by inspectors in Europe, the United States and Asian countries in recent years because they contained banned chemicals or were unfit for consumption, government data show.

In the European Union alone, Chinese fish and shrimp were rejected because they contained fungicides, antibiotics or other banned drugs; dried fruit and vegetables were found to have more than the allowable level of the preservative sulfite; peanuts had excessive levels of fungus-related toxins; and packaged foods tested positive for heavy metals that leached from their packaging.

Although only the world’s eighth-largest exporter of food, China ranked in first place last year for the number of hazardous imports detected by regulators in the European Union. China had 352 notifications, its highest level ever, compared with 191 for the United States, which is the world’s largest agricultural exporter.”

I have been on the fence on the issue of buying products Made in China.  I hate to reject everything exported from China, because some things must be made safely and responsibly.  And, yet the simply truth is that authorities cannot possibly test all products for toxicity.  If a country does have a consistently bad track record, why am I willing to take the risk? 

As of today, I am off the fence.  Given the state of our economy, I say it’s time to make the effort and spend the cash to buy Made in the USA whenever possible.  If things are rocky at home, why send our money overseas?  We help ourselves by helping our neighbors who have continued to produce products in the USA despite higher costs due to paying a fair wage and not cutting corners on product quality.  Quality = safety.   What do you think?

 

Melamine Children’s Dishes – Safe or Toxic? October 9, 2008

Filed under: Baby & Toddler — Rachel @ 4:48 pm
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Last year when I rid our house of BPA-plastics, I wondered about melamine children’s dishes.  You know, those hard plastic kids plates and bowls with cute painted designs?  They are what everyone uses for kid’s tableware.  Safe or toxic?

I scoured the Internet for info on the safety of melamine for children, but came up with few hard facts: melamine is NOT dishwasher safe or microwave safe (something about the heat can cause dangerous fumes), melamine dishes are a polymer (that means combo) of melamine and formaldehyde, and formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.  These few facts did not boost my confidence.  Since my thought is to err on the side of caution when it comes to man made chemicals and my children, I decided to donate the melamine.  Since then, my 3-year-old has been using ceramic plates (none broken yet!) and my toddler has been eating out of Bambu Bowls (available at EuphoriaBaby.com).

Now, months later, I received an interesting email from Healthy Child Healthy World.  They noted that the FDA states that no level of melamine is safe for infant formula.  Considering that the FDA thinks BPA-emitting plastics are safe (yah right!), this makes one wonder why they’re taking such a strong stand on melamine.  Any research will reveal that melamine leaches its constituents into food and beverages(especially those that are acidic or warm) when used.  In the past, experts have claimed that this chemical would be safe in small amounts.  However, those experts always seem to forget about the dangers of cumulative exposure and unpredictable reactions when different chemicals converge within the body.

This June, The National Toxicology Program declared that more research is needed on the safety of melamine and that a new public health recommendation needs to be developed.  I can see where this is going.  If you are still using your cute melamine dishes, you may want to consider donating them or relegating them to the play kitchen or sandbox.   For the youngest ones, use wooden or stainless steel dishes.  And, let your older ones use ceramic dishes – a few broken dishes is well worth their health, and your child may be more ready for it than you think!