The crisis of tainted food is still spreading deeper and wider in China. Melamine contamination is now found in milk, dairy products, candies, and chicken eggs. It has now become apparent that, for many years, the chemical melamine has been added to animal feed and milk to artificially inflate the reading of protein levels. This intentional act is responsible for the pet food scare a year and half ago and has now caused four infant deaths and thousands of children in hospitals suffering from kidney stones and other illnesses.
Although the addition of melamine has been a wide-known secret in China, nobody really know how it got started. About a month ago, a netter posted in XYS an advertisement of technology transfer, dated July 30, 1999, from the Chinese Academy of Science. The ad promotes a new, cheap, and easy-to-make additive for animal feed that would boost the nitrogen content of the feed. It had a simple description of the raw materials (industrial organic chemicals and fertilizers) and equipments (boilers, mixers, and driers) involved and a price for the expertise and training. It did not, however, disclose the name or content of the additive.
See also a previous CDT post: “Greed, Science, and Melamine,” from an Asia Times article.