Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Late re-post: Melamine contamination in Oman's Chicken

I had to re-post Muscat Mutterers recent link to the Muscat Daily story last week about how half of the chicken sold in Oman had very high levels of the adulterant Melamine.

The plastic Melamine contains a LOT of nitrogen, which makes it test like good protein in food products. It can cause kidney stones and renal failure when eaten.

Meat in Oman contaminated with melamine, says SQU study
Muscat Daily, by Madhuparna Bhattacharjee 10/10/2011 1:30 pm
Meat and meat products in the Omani market are contaminated with melamine, a study has revealed. Experts caution against consuming such meat, which can cause serious health ailments.

“We found out that some meat here contains melamine and this is of serious concern,” Professor Isam T Kadim, head of the department of animal and veterinary sciences, SQU, who led the research, told Muscat Daily. “Melamine contamination can take place through the use of veterinary drugs such as antibiotics, hormones, growth promoting agents and commercialised feed.”

The approved melamine content in food from use of such industrial products is estimated at less than 0.015mg/kg. Acco-rding to Kadim, this is a small quantity and does not pose a public health concern. “However, we found out that chicken product samples from eight out of 16 poultry companies contain melamine in the range of 25.6-73mg/kg.”

The study tested 51 randomly collected meat and meat product samples from 35 local, regional and international companies. The samples represented cattle, she-ep and poultry, besides burgers, sausages, mortadella, salami and mincemeat from the processed meat category.

It also showed that the conc-entration of melamine in proc-essed poultry such as sausages, burger and mincemeat ranged between zero and 35.2 mg/kg. “However, melamine content in cattle and sheep meat samples was below the maximum residue limit,” he said. “The results indicated that some of the poultry companies may have used feed contaminated with melamine.”

These values were much higher than the maximum residue limit, consumption of which can cause kidney stones. Fifty per cent of poultry products tested were contaminated with more than the maximum permitted limit of melamine.

“The high levels of melamine must be taken seriously as poultry consumption among Omanis has increased by 75-80 per cent in recent years,” Kadim added.
He cited the example of China, where melamine was added to diluted milk for manufacturing powdered infant formula some years back. The adulterated formula resulted in 50,000 cases of kidney stones, mostly among children under three years of age.

Oman needs to strengthen sampling and develop techniques to monitor the potential hazards of contaminated food. “Screening of melamine residues in meat and meat products is very important, especially in Oman, where meat consumption is high,” Kad-im said.

Yes, another half-baked news story in the Omani press. No mention of brands impacted, or advice for consumers.

The issue of adulteration of many products with the plastic melamine, plus the rather nasty sounding cyanuric acid, is a world-wide issue, mainly thanks to the Chinese extreme laissez faire economy. There is little regulation, and what little inspection there is seems easiy corrupted and by-passed if there's a buck in it. There's a great extended article in wiki on Protein adulteration in the People's Republic of China.

The most likely cause of this contamination in Oman's chicken is via adulterated animal feed, where Chinese manufacturers add the melamine to boost measurements of 'protein' levels, faking even things labeled 'organic wheat gluten' by using ordinary wheat flour with added melamine and/or cyanuric acid. Yum.

The maximum recommended Total Daily Intake of Melamine?

...The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), in EFSA's Provisional Statement on a Request from the European Commission Related to Melamine and Structurally Related Compounds such as Cyanuric acid in Protein-rich Ingredients Used for Food and Feed, concluded: "EFSA provisionally recommends to apply a TDI of 0.5 mg/kg b.w. for the total of melamine and its analogues .... A source of uncertainty is the combined toxicity of melamine and cyanuric acid and their possible synergistic effects in relation to the recently observed toxicity linked to the acute renal failure and death of pet animals (cats and dogs) in the U.S. This mechanism is currently under investigation."

So, if you're a 60kg adult, you're allowed to eat up to a maximum of 30mg of melamine. According to the report in Muscat Daily, some of the chicken tested at 73mg/kg, so eating 400g of that chicken would max out your limit. However, children are more susceptible, and a child weighing 30 kg would be over the adult limit eating 200g of the stuff. And that's without allowing for the unknown impact of cyanuric acid, which makes melamine even more poisonous.

The fact that the brands were not named makes me suspect it was not restricted to imported chicken. This Chinese junk can enter the human food chain in so many ways, and melamine is difficult to test for. Are Omani Flour Mills using imports of gluten or other such products from China? Can they test for adulteration? Who in the Omani Government is testing for this stuff?

Meanwhile, avoid eating chicken, as well as all the other crap.
Be more aware of what you consume. Food Adulteration is a growing problem. Grass fed NZ & Aussie beef and lamb is a good option.

But in terms of Omani Health risk, I'd guess that fatty/sugar filled food is a much bigger problem in the Sultanate. We've all seen people in the supermarket queue loaded to the gunnels with highly processed foods and sugar by the ton - in a place plagued by obesity & diabetes.


  1. thanks for the plug mate, more importantly though, thanks for working out the daily amounts of intake we can have!

  2. It's a scary story. Glad you spotted it!

    Who knows how much is in other stuff, like bread? Or eggs...


  3. Why the hell dont they name the brands??? The guys in the know will conveniently be avoiding those brands and their families will be safe. I heard recently that Muscat Daily may be closing down due to cash problems faced by its parent company. Thank God I tell you ! Is this journalism?? Just dish out a half baked story and leave the rest for the world to keep guessing.

  4. No more chicken starting from today.

    Thanks for sharing all these scary staff!!


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