The current China Milk Scandal should be an opportunity for the Philippines to address a related problem. In China, milk (infant formula) is currently being blamed for the death of some infants, incidence of kidney stones in another 13,000 and currently mild illness in about 54,000 others. At this point, 104 babies are in serious condition. The disaster is being blamed on the toxic substance Melamine which was found in a number of milk products in China.
What is Melamine?
Sometimes confused with the plant and animal compound Melanine or another term ( Melanin ), Melamine is an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of plastic products. Despite that, tests showed that a number of milk companies used it in processing milk.
Why use Melanine (Melamine) in Milk Products?
Dairy companies are suspected to have used Melanine in order to fool government regulators. With Melanine, milk can be diluted with water but continue to register high protein levels. With increased volume, more milk can be sold and the companies make more money. The problem is, Melanine can cause kidney stones and acute renal failure. In low doses Melamine is said to be non toxic but when mixed with cyanuric acid, it forms poorly digestible and deadly crystals. So why did they allow Melanine and Cyanuric acid to mix? A little research revealed that Melamine itself can produce Cyanuric acid. Therefore, by simply adding Melanine in milk, Cyanuric acid can possibly be produced and mixed to result in crystals that will damage people's kidneys.
In China, a grandmother told reporters that at 2 months old, her grandson's urine started becoming yellowish in color. At 9 months, it become bloody red. An interview with a doctor revealed that uric acid or calcium crystals (stones) are most probably filled with sharp edges that can tear an infected persons kidney or urethra. It is therefore very possible for individual with kidney stones to urinate blood. Needless to say, kidney stones are very painful for the infected individuals.
As of now, substantial quantities of fresh milk, long life milk, yogurt and ice cream (from China) were found to contain Melamine. It is probably safe to speculate that milk chocolate bars and other products with milk content (from China) are also in danger of containing Melanine.
A Philippine Milk Scandal?
In the Philippines, the Bureau of Food and Drug (BFAD) has banned the importation of milk products from the People's Republic of China (PROC). All importers and distributors are also ordered to stop selling the product while tests to make sure that imported Chinese milk is safe are being conducted.
A few days ago, the BFAD also warned the public from buying unlabeled milk being sold in plastic packs. There is a strong possibility that those came from China and worse, it may be a part of the contaminated batches that have been ordered destroyed.
What the government is yet to officially acknowledge is the fact that some milk anomalies have been in existence in the Philippines for quite sometime. Cheap and unbranded powdered milk is a regular sighting in most public markets and the possibility that those are bacteria laden is very strong. Sans any label that will make the distributors accountable, the government should immediately ban its sale. A television program once made an investigation and video documented a trader that recycles expired and dirty powdered milk into retail packs. At the very least, those products can result in diarrhea which is the fifth leading cause of infant mortality in the Philippines.