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FDA Comes under Fire for Chemicals in Baby Formula

The Food and Drug Administration is receiving heavy criticism from members of Congress, public interest groups, and consumer advocates, who charge the agency with failing to act after discovering trace amounts of melamine in baby formula sold in the US. The FDA found both melamine and cyanuric acid, chemicals known to cause serious personal injuries, in samples of baby formula produced by major U.S. manufacturers. Melamine has been found to cause kidney and bladder stones and it can lead to kidney failure and even death. Melamine and cyanuric acid, in combination, can result in the formation of crystals that can cause serious kidney damage and can destroy renal function. The agency began testing samples of infant formula made by American manufacturers after Chinese formula makers were found to have intentionally added the chemical to watered-down formula to give it the appearance of containing higher protein levels, leading to the deaths of at least 4 Asian infants and the hospitalization of over 50,000 others.

The FDA collected and tested samples of US-manufactured infant formula and found traces of the chemicals present, yet the agency failed to release this information. The test results were made public only after the Associated Press received them in a Freedom of Information records request. Rather than labeling the formula as tainted and urging a recall, the FDA released a statement that the amounts discovered pose no health risk to infants. This statement has been heavily criticized given that, just one month earlier, the agency was unable to determine what level of melamine could be considered safe.

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