Friday, November 28, 2008

U.S. Infant Formula Concerns: Relevant Consumer Safety

Witnessing the travesty that is the Chinese melamine baby formula scandal that sickened well over 10,000 babies, and killed unknown numbers (the official number stands at three, but previous reporting calls that in to question), some asked if it could happen here? Recent events are not putting that worry to rest with the report that the FDA detected, albeit extremely small, trace amounts of melamine and a related compound in at least three formula makers products in the U.S. The three formula makers account for 90% of domestic U.S. formula production. Sensitive to consumer concerns, the FDA and the formula manufacturers are moving quickly to allay the understandable fears of the public. But these assurances do not excuse the fact that the FDA did not forthrightly inform the public, but it was instead the Associated Press who unearthed the finding under a Freedom of Information Act request. The FDA indicates that the contamination occurred as a result of the manufacturing process, where equipment is shared, as well as from cleaning compounds. The FDA has set limits on the amount of safe level baby formula contaminants, but there was more contamination than the FDA has said it expects from equipment contamination, raising questions as yet unanswered. The FDA urges parents not to panic and alter how they feed their infants, but it is clear that there are many questions yet to be satisfactorily answered.

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