January 22, 2013
Soup Eaten From Melamine Bowls May Lead To Increase In Kidney Stones
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Melamine, a chemical that was behind a 2008 health crisis, after it was found to have killed Chinese infants who used a certain baby formula, is sparking new concerns. It seems the chemical may raise the risk of kidney stones in people who use non-breakable melamine bowls to eat soup and other hot foods.
A study from researchers at the Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan has found that when these bowls are used to serve boiling-hot foods, a toxic chemical is released from the tableware that can lead to dangerous health issues.
“Melamine is a chemical used widely in industry and found in many household products,” noted Dr. Kenneth Spaeth, a health expert not connected with the new research.
Melamine is found in plastics, adhesives, countertops, dishware and other products. Consumption of dairy goods contaminated with melamine in China in 2008 resulted in more than 300,000 babies infected with the dangerous chemical, including six deaths.
China vowed it would improve consumer protection following the 2008 health crisis, and just last month, the government said it would enact harsh punishments on companies that continue to violate consumer food safety laws.
Publishing their work in JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers followed a dozen healthy adult volunteers, analyzing urine samples collected within 12 hours of consumption of noodle soup served in melamine or ceramic bowls. In the soup group who ate from the melamine bowls, the team detected 8.35 micrograms of the chemical, compared to only 1.31 micrograms in the ceramic bowl group.
After three weeks, the study team conducted a follow-up experiment where participants ate the same kind of food, but the type of bowl they used was reversed. After 12 hours, the team took urine samples and found similar results.
"Melamine tableware may release large amounts of melamine when used to serve high-temperature foods. The amount of melamine released into food and beverages from melamine tableware varies by brand, so the results of this study of one brand may not be generalized to other brands," the team, led by Chia-Fang Wu, wrote in the study.
They noted that it is not yet clear what effect this may have on human health. But previous studies have found a link between low-dose melamine exposure and an increased risk for kidney stones in both children and adults.
And animal studies have had similar findings. Spaeth said while “there is little human health data to adequately characterize the risk such exposure poses“¦ studies of melamine toxicity in animals indicate that ingestion can cause kidney stones, kidney damage and may induce cancer.”
“Although the clinical significance of what levels of urinary melamine concentration has not yet been established, the consequences of long-term melamine exposure still should be of concern,” Wu and colleagues said in a statement.