The Department of Health is mulling the possibility of implementing the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s newest regulations on melamine additives to milk powder products for infants.
Concern over the melamine content in milk powder products for infants traces its roots to a 2008 disaster in China, where six infants died and 50,000 more were hospitalized after ingesting products tainted with melamine.
Melamine is a toxic organic compound that, according to an article written by Julie Ingelfinger and published by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008, has the “tendency to form stones and gravel in the urinary system,” leading to the development of kidney stones and renal failure — symptoms displayed by most of the children who were hospitalized in China.
The Chinese outbreak also made an impact on the Taiwanese market, causing then-department of health minister Lin Fang-yu (林芳郁) to tender his resignation.
Lin had resigned over his plan to change the allowable level of melamine in milk powder products to 2.5 parts per million (ppm), to replace the original regulation banning all melamine, after local media voiced the general public’s dissatisfaction with his plan.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission’s announcement yesterday stated that milk powder products may not contain more than 0.15ppm of melamine per kilogram of product — a significantly lower level than the 1ppm they had set two years ago.
Until formal notice of the ministry’s decision, the policy of no melamine additives in milk powder products applies.