FDA has reportedly detected the industrial chemical melamine and its byproduct cyanuric acid in additional cans of U.S.-manufactured infant formula, but stressed that the levels are below the safety threshold set for young children and infants. Four of the 89 infant formula products tested by FDA contained trace amounts of melamine or cyanuric acid, which are used during the manufacturing process as disinfectants and in some food packaging. FDA and other food safety experts have apparently stated that this trace contamination most
likely occurred during processing and not as the result of intentional adulteration. See Food & Water Watch Blog, January 5, 2009; The Associated Press, January 7, 2009.

Meanwhile, Chinese courts started criminal trials for six cattle farmers and milk collectors accused of making melamine protein powder and adding it to raw milk sold to Chinese dairies, including the government-owned Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group Co. Sanlu recently declared bankruptcy as a result of the nationwide scandal arising from the contamination of infant formula, which allegedly killed six children and sickened more than 300,000. Former Sanlu executive Tian Wenhua has since pleaded guilty to selling fake and substandard milk powder, according to the state-run media. See China Daily, December 25, 2008; The Jurist, December 26 and 27, 2008; The New York Times, January 1, 2009.

In a related development, the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology (ASPN) has advised U.S. parents who adopted Chinese-born infants between 2007 and 2008 to monitor their children for signs of kidney ailments. At least one adoptive parent has apparently reported a diagnosis of kidney stones in her infant daughter born in an area of China implicated in the tainted milk investigation. “[P]arents of adopted children from China who are aware, or suspect a problem stemming from potential melamine contamination might be well advised to
consult a lawyer conversant with the issue,” advised one article appearing January 6, 2009, on the LawyersandSettlements.com web site.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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