Melamina (also in english)

Che cos’e la melamina?

La melamina è un composto chimico di sintesi prodotto industrialmente.

A cosa serve?

Essendo una plastica dura e resistente al calore viene sovente usata per gli utensili da cucina, i piatti ed i rivestimenti laminati dei tavoli e delle superfici da lavoro (la melamina si trova ad esempio nella fòrmica). Anche le lavagne bianche contengono melamina. La melamina, in virtù del suo alto contenuto di azoto può essere utilizzata anche come fertilizzante.

Perché viene aggiunta volontariamente al latte?

La melamina è un composto chimico molto ricco in azoto e per questo motivo viene aggiunta al latte in polvere e alle farine proteiche di glutine destinate all’alimentazione degli animali per aumentarne apparentemente il contenuto proteico. Questo è possibile perchè le analisi che misurano la concentrazione proteica negli alimenti si basano sulla misurazione dell’azoto totale.

Negli ultimi anni la melamina è stata ritrovata negli alimenti per animali, nei cereali e in altri prodotti come i concentrati proteici di riso. Nel 2007, in seguito a numerosi casi di malattia e morte di cani e gatti, le autorità statunitensi hanno ritirato dal commercio oltre 100 diversi tipi di alimenti per animali da compagnia. In tutti i casi finora scoperti gli alimenti contenenti melamina provenivano dalla Cina.

Che problemi di salute può provocare?

Al momento si sa ancora poco sulla tossicità della melamina nell’uomo, anche perchè finora non c’erano ancora stati casi di intossicazione acuta. La tossicità acuta negli animali è invece stata già studiata e provoca inappetenza e perdita di peso, calcoli vescicali ed eliminazione di cristalli di melamina con le urine.

Esposizioni prolungate alla melamina possono invece causare disturbi alla sfera riproduttiva, calcoli renali e patologie alla vescica, che possono esitare in tumori.

Cosa è stato fatto?

Recentemente la Commissione Europea ha incaricato l’Agenzia per la Sicurezza Alimentare Europea (EFSA) di redigere una valutazione tossicologica sulla contaminazione da melamina in mangimi ed alimenti.

cliccando QUI si può leggere la prima valutazione dell’EFSA (in inglese)

In Italia il Ministero della Salute emana ogni anno un piano nazionale per la sorveglianza sanitaria sull’alimentazione degli animali. Nei controlli all’importazione dei mangimi sono previsti dei campionamenti che riguardano alcune sostanze indesiderabili nell’alimentazione animale, tra queste c’è anche la melamina (insieme a micotossine, metalli pesanti, OGM, diossine, ecc.). E comunque aggiungere agli alimenti sostanze estranee come la melamina può configurare diversi possibili reati che vanno dalla frode in commercio fino all’omicidio colposo.

ENGLISH VERSION

What is melamine?

Melamine is a synthetic, chemical compound industrially produced.

What is it for?

Being a hard plastics very resistant to the heat, melamine is often used for the kitchen utensils, the dishes and the laminate coverings of the tables and of the job surfaces. Also the white blackboards contain melamine. The melamine, thanks to his high nitrogen content can also be used as fertilizer.

Why is voluntarily added to the milk?

Melamine is a chemical compound very rich in nitrogen. For this reason she is added to the powdered milk and to the proteic flours of gluten destined to the animals feeding to apparently increase its protein content. This is possible because the analytical measurement of the protein concentration in the foodstuffs is based on the measurement of the total nitrogen.

In the last years melamine has been found in the pet food, in the cereals and other products like the rice protein concentrate. In 2007, following many cases of illness and death in dogs and cats, the American authorities have withdrawn from the commerce over 100 different types of pet food. In all the cases till now discovered the foodstuffs containing melamine they originated from China.

What health problems can she cause?

At this moment few is known on the toxicity of the melamine in man, also because till now there had not been cases of acute poisoning. The acute toxicity in the animals has already been studied instead and it causes appetite and weight loss, bladder calculi and crystals elimination of melamine with the urines.

Prolonged exposures to melamine can cause troubles instead to the reproductive sphere, renal calculi and others bladder pathologies, that may hesitate in cancer.

What has been done?

Recently the European Commission has entrusted the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) to draft a toxicological evaluation on the melamine contamination in foods and foodstuffs.

click HERE and you can read (in English) the first EFSA evaluation of melamine

In Italy the Health Ministry emanates every year a national plan for the sanitary overseeing on the animals feeding. During the controls to the foods importation samples were collected in order to establish the presence of undesirable substances in the animal feeding. Among these substances there is also the melamine (together with mycotoxins, heavy metals, OGM, dioxins, etc.). However the addition of extraneous substances like melamine to the foodstuffs can realize different crimes that go from the fraud to commerce up to the manslaughter.

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Published in: on venerdì, 19 settembre, 2008 at 10:52 am  Comments (12)  
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