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About melamine

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Melamine is a nitrogen-rich organic compound, with the chemical formula C3 H6N6, which is normally used as an industrial chemical in plastics and glues. It is sometimes fraudulently added to food and feed products to increase the apparent protein content, as protein concentrations are typically measured by analysis of nitrogen. Intake of melamine has been linked to kidney stones and other health problems.

The recent health scare in China over powdered milk has raised concerns about possible melamine contamination in products on the European market. Although the EU does not import milk or other dairy produce from China, processed foods such as biscuits and chocolates might have traces of milk powder. The European Commission consequently decided that composite products, including feed, that contain milk products originating in or consigned from China shall be checked, including laboratory analysis (Commission Decision 2008/798/EC). Products containing more than 2.5 mg / kg are to be immediately destroyed.

In response to this issue, the JRC-IRMM has reviewed existing analytical methods for the detection of melamine in food and feed, and is now organising a proficiency test to benchmark laboratories ability to detect melamine in food and feed. This website will continuously evolve in response to the melamine situation, and relevant stakeholders are invited to contribute to this website via .

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report on the melamine proficiency test[950Kb]

Breidbach, A., Bouten, K., Kroeger, K., Ulberth, F.: “Capabilities of laboratories to determine melamine in food – results of an international proficiency test”, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 396 (2010) 503-510

Test standard to determine the melamine and cyanuric acid content of liquid milk, powdered milk products and infant formulae

In November 2010, a technical standard, ISO/TS 15495 - IDF/RM 230:2010 - Milk, milk products and infant formulae - Guidelines for the quantitative determination of melamine and cyanuric acid by LC-MS/MS, developed by the International Dairy Federation (IDF) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO), was published. For more information, see
Latest update 9 December, 2008

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