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R-Biopharm Rhône Ltd is pleased to announce the launch of their new melamine solid phase clean-up columns for the analysis of melamine in a range of commodities by HPLC or LC-MS/MS.

Melamine is an organic base chemical rich in nitrogen and is most commonly found in the form of white cyrstals. Melamine is widely used in plastics, adhesives, fertilizers and dishware. However, over the last few years melamine has also been used in the adulteration of various products to increase the nitrogen content of the product. Addition of melamine into food is not approved by the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius or by any national authorities. Melamine contamination has recently been found in a number of products including infant formula, dairy products, coffee, chocolate products and animal feed.

The European Union has set a standard for acceptable human consumption of melamine at 0.5 ppm of body mass (see EC Commission Decision 2008/798 for further information). While there are no direct studies on the effect of melamine on humans there was a recent health scare in China where nearly 300,000 people became ill and resulted in 6 infant deaths. Health effects include bladder stones and, when combined with cyanuric acid, can also cause kidney stones which can ultimately result in kidney failure and in some cases death.

Although the EU does not import milk or dairy from China, processed foods such as biscuits and chocolates may contain traces of milk powder. EC Commission Decision 2008/798 states that composite products, including feed, that contain milk products originating from China should be checked and any product containing over 2.5 ppm should be immediately destroyed. A recent article from Food Quality News discussed an initiative to try and set a global melamine standard for foods. The aim of the initiative was to try and harmonise efforts to detect future contamination and avoid unwanted trade barriers.

The melamine solid phase clean-up columns have been proven to give excellent recoveries and have a limit of detection below international legislative limits when used in conjunction with HPLC. The columns have been evaluated for the detection of melamine in infant formula, dairy products, chocolate products and animal feed by HPLC.

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