2010-2011 Melamine in Milk-based and Soy-based Products

Executive Summary

The Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP) aims to modernize and enhance Canada's food safety system. As part of the FSAP enhanced surveillance initiative, targeted surveys are used to test various foods for specific hazards.

The main objective of this survey was to generate baseline surveillance data on the level of melamine in milk-based and soy-based products available on the Canadian retail market.

Melamine is a synthetic chemical used in commercial and industrial applications. It does not occur naturally in the environment or in food and is not permitted for use in food. However, it may be found in food at low levels that are not of concern to human health, as a result of its industrial uses, such as from fertilizers or as a by-product from the use of certain pesticides (e.g., cyromazine). In the pastFootnote 1, melamine was found to have been added to foods intended for human consumption in China, including infant formula, in order to fraudulently boost the apparent protein content. Since protein content is calculated from the level of nitrogen in a food, melamine was intentionally added to increase the total nitrogen value which results in a greater apparent protein content.

The 2010-2011 Melamine Survey targeted domestic and imported milk-based and soy-based products. A total of 590 samples were collected from grocery and specialty stores in 11 Canadian cities between October 2010 and March 2011. The samples collected included 302 milk-based and 288 soy-based products.

One hundred percent of the results obtained from the testing of milk-based and soy-based products in this targeted survey were below Health Canada's melamine interim standard of 2.5 parts per million (ppm) for foods containing milk or milk-derived ingredients. None of the infant formula/cereal samples tested positive (< 0.05 ppm) for melamine.

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