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Revelations of significant safety threats posed by melamine contaminated imported foods have dramatically heightened public concern and triggered food control measures. Melamine is a synthetic chemical used in a variety of industrial applications. It is high in nitrogen and has been added to animal feeds to disguise the protein content, lower costs and increase manufacturers’ profits. It is not naturally occurring and is not allowed to be added to food. Though melamine is considered metabolically inactive and low in toxicity, excessive exposure to the substance has been found to cause urinary tract stones, and crystals in the urine. The current level set by the US Food and Drug Administration in food is 2.5 ppm ingested by a person weighing 60kg. Given that little is known about the long-term ill-effects of consuming melamine, and the associated risks of this imported food products to the Caribbean and the developing world, it is important to examine the probable health and economic risks associated with melamine tainted food products. Since the Chinese scandal, a number of countries have adopted food control measures to prevent the product from entering the food chain. This paper focuses on melamine as a chemical hazard, cases of melamine food poisoning, effects of melamine on animal and human health, food safety and quality control measures, institutional structure and capacity to test and control melamine entry into the food chain, impact on International and Regional Trade and recommendations for better food control and protection of consumers from unsafe foods.


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