Melamine misery extends into seafood
Some scientists and consumer advocates are raising
concerns that fish from China might also be contaminated with
China is the world's largest producer of farm-raised seafood, exporting
billions of dollars worth of shrimp, catfish, tilapia, salmon and other
The US imported about $2 billion worth of seafood products from
China in 2007, almost double the volume of four years earlier, according to the
US Department of Agriculture.
But industry experts and businesspeople in
China say melamine has been routinely added into fish and animal feed to
artificially boost protein readings.
And new research suggests that,
unlike in cows and pigs, the edible flesh in fish that have been fed melamine
contains residue of the nitrogen-rich substance.
Some American fish
importers are voluntarily testing for melamine, but the FDA, which is
responsible for ensuring the safety of imported fish, currently doesn't require
seafood products to be screened for melamine. Yet research from its own
scientists has raised a warning flag.
Laboratory studies in the U.S. of melamine-fed catfish, trout,
tilapia and salmon by the FDA's Animal Drugs Research Center found that fish
tissues had melamine concentrations of up to 200 parts per
That's 80 times the maximum "tolerable" amount set by the FDA
for safe consumption.
Scientists said testing of melamine in farm-raised
fish from China should be made mandatory for precisely that reason: a lack of
information about melamine levels in Chinese feed and fish.
who has monitored the melamine problem in China for several years, says he
believes the adulterated products are now being supplied only by small
operators, which abound there.
Like those who added melamine to milk and
diluted it with water to increase profits, feed businesses can sell more by
substituting melamine for real protein sources, especially with raw material
costs having soared in recent years.
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