Melamine Contamination Poses Almost No Risk to Humans

USDA begins to release swine and poultry that may have eaten trace amounts of melamine for processing.

In a recent government risk assessment dealing with the melamine contamination in pet food and livestock feed, scientists found that even if a person eats, for one day, only products from animals that ate the contaminated feed, that person would still have a potential exposure about 2,500 times lower than the level considered to be safe for humans.

Although many swine and poultry are still being withheld from the human food supply, on some operations in which feed tested negative for melamine USDA is allowing the animals to be released from quarantine.

The risk assessment, conducted by scientists from eight government agencies, found that while the levels of melamine consumed by pets was high enough to be fatal to the animals, the amount left in processed hogs or poultry that had eaten the contaminated feed would amount to a minimal health risk for humans.

The feed from some of the operations in question is still being tested or has tested positive, and those animals remain in quarantine from the food supply. However, USDA is not yet calling for the animals to be culled. Another risk assessment, expected to be finished within a week, will inform USDA decision on which animals can be released for processing and whether any should be culled.

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