2011-2012 Melamine in selected foods

Executive Summary

The Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP) aims to modernize and enhance Canada's food safety system. As part of the FSAP enhanced surveillance initiative, targeted surveys are used to test various foods for specific hazards.

The main objective of this targeted survey was to generate baseline surveillance data on the level of melamine in meat and seafood alternatives, meal replacements, protein powders, and snack products available on the Canadian retail market.

Melamine is a synthetic chemical used in commercial and industrial applications. It does not occur naturally in the environment or in food, and is not permitted for use in food. However, it may be found in food at low levels as a result of its industrial uses, such as from fertilizers or as a by-product from the use of certain pesticides (e.g., cyromazine). In the past, melamine was found to have been added to foods intended for human consumption in China, including infant formula, in order to fraudulently boost the total nitrogen content. Since protein content is calculated from the level of nitrogen in a food, melamine was intentionally added to increase the total nitrogen value, which resulted in greater apparent protein content.

The 2011-2012 Melamine in Selected Foods survey targeted domestic and imported meat and seafood alternatives, meal replacements, protein powders and snack products. A total of 590 samples were collected from grocery and specialty stores in 11 Canadian cities between April 2011 and March 2012. The samples collected included 175 meat alternatives (wheat- and soy-based), 21 seafood alternatives (plant-, soy-, and wheat-based), 95 meal replacements (powders, ready-to-drink shakes), 102 protein powders (casein protein, egg white protein, soy protein, and whey protein), and 197 snack products (biscuits, cookies, crackers, and wafers).

Melamine was not detected in any sample in this survey. Given that none of the samples in this survey were positive for melamine; follow-up actions were not deemed necessary.

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Footnotes

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