Maybe you heard about the melamine contamination issue when tainted pet food started killing pets. But, if you don’t have a pet, maybe you didn’t worry so much.
Or maybe you noticed when tainted infant formula started sending infants to the hospital. Stuff that harms babies (even way far away in China) is really sad. But if you’re not currently caring for a baby that ingests infant formula, eventually your attention wandered.
Then the news came that melamine levels were testing high in treats like White Rabbit candies and Panda’s March cookies — treats that may have been on your shelves (as they were on ours). Sure, it’s annoying to toss out that bag of candy, but it’s a relief that someone is testing all of these products to keep us safe, right? (Because the products meant for human ingestion are all being tested, aren’t they?)
Well, I see today via Discoblog, that “adult edibles” — strawberry-flavored body pens and chocolate-flavored “willy spreads” — in the UK have tested with melamine levels “up to 100 times over the legal limit, set at 2.5mg/kg”.
Not even the sex toys are safe.
Now, it seems pretty unlikely to me that edible sex toys are tested for protein content (or that a low protein content would result in an edible panty recall). What that suggests is that the problem is closer to the producers’ end of the chain — that the struggling milk producers in villages in China are watering the milk to make it go farther, but adding melamine (scraps left over from manufacture) so the protein profile looks like unwatered milk.
The aim of the adulteration isn’t to poison anyone, but to make money. However, the current inspection set-up isn’t identifying the adulteration until the milk has been transformed into many other products (and has traveled great geographical distances).
It’s not just a problem with inspections and tests in China. And, given that manufacturers of food for human and animal consumption (and of sex toys) are getting their raw materials from a global marketplace, the consumer can’t be sure where those raw materials originated or what might have happened to them between the cow’s udder and the candy plant.
“Made in U.S.A.” isn’t enough information to keep us safe.
I suppose if there’s a silver lining to the melamine adulteration saga, it’s the chance that we’ll recognize that the globalization of trade in raw materials and finished products mean that these problems are not isolated. They don’t just affect other people. If you’re buying any processed food (or even sex toys) rather than making everything on your own from the bounty of your garden, you may get your surprise dose of adulterants, too!
For more on melamine and the food supply, see: