FACT SHEET: Melamine and Analogues Safety/Risk Assessment-Updated 5/24/2007 | USDA Newsroom
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News Release

Release No. 0129.07
USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623

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Interim Melamine and Analogues Safety/Risk Assessment

May 24, 2007
  • Based on currently available data and information, the consumption of pork, chicken and eggs from animals and fish fed animal feed supplemented with pet food scraps that contained melamine and related compounds is very unlikely to pose a human health risk, according to an assessment by federal scientists.
  • This conclusion is from an "Interim Melamine and Analogues Safety/Risk Assessment" conducted by FDA in collaboration with scientists from FSIS and in consultation with scientists from a number of other federal agencies. Melamine analogues include cyanuric acid, which is a melamine analogue that was detected in the pet food.
  • A safety/risk assessment is a scientifically based methodology used to estimate the risk to human health from exposure to specified compounds. It is based on available data and certain scientific assumptions in the absence of data.
  • The safety/risk assessment provides estimates of the human exposure to melamine and related compounds from the consumption of contaminated pork, poultry, eggs and fish and compares this exposure to levels calculated to be safe to consume.
  • The interim assessment reflects a more complete understanding of melamine and related compounds, as well as our ability to detect the compounds in pork, poultry and fish.
  • Based on a worst case scenario, if melamine and cyanuric acid were present in equal amounts in all the solid food consumed by an individual every day, the potential exposure is about 250 times lower than the level considered safe. This is a large safety margin.
  • Translating this into consumption levels, a person weighing 132 pounds would have to eat more than 800 pounds per day of pork, poultry or other food containing melamine and its compounds to approach a level of consumption that would cause a health concern.
  • The interim human safety/risk assessment notes that melamine is not metabolized, and is rapidly excreted. Thus, it is not believed to accumulate in the body of animals.
  • The interim assessment uses the conservative assumption that meat testing can detect melamine levels as low as 50 parts per billion in pork or poultry. However, the assessment assumes that melamine is present at 100 parts per billion to also account for the potential presence of the related compound cyanuric acid in addition to melamine.
  • The interim safety/risk assessment undergoes public comment through a Federal Register notice, in addition to the review by external scientific experts.
  • The assessment was conducted by scientists from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in collaboration with scientists in the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and in consultation with scientists in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).