GENEVA, July 6 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations' food standards body, Codex Alimentarius Commission, said on Tuesday that it had set limits on the natural content of melamine in powdered infant formula and other food in order to help countries ensure the safety of related food products.
The melamine limit for powdered infant formula is one milligram per kg, and the maximum level of the chemical in other food as well as animal feed should be 2.5 milligram per kg, according to the standard set by the body, which is run jointly by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Addressing a news briefing, WHO food safety expert Angelika Tritscher stressed that the above-mentioned standard refers to the natural and unavoidable presence of melamine in food, while any intentional addition of the chemical in food for economic interests is unacceptable.
"Intentional addition of melamine to food to falsify protein content is by no means acceptable at any level," Tritscher said.
Melamine is a chemical usually used in making plastics, fertilizers and concrete. The human body can tolerate very small quantities of the chemical which can be found in food because of "natural contamination" during processing or storing, according to WHO experts.
Melaine looks like protein, but it is not protein and it is actually dangerous when there are high concentrations, said Dr Jorgen Schlundt, director of the WHO's Food Safety and Zoonoses Department.
He said it was very important to separate intentional addition of melamine in food from what can be natural contamination.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission, which has 173 member states and one member organization -- the European Union, is meeting in Geneva this week.
Besides the melamine limits in food, the commission is also discussing issues like maximum residue limit for ractopamine (drug used as feed additive to promote leanness in pigs raised for their meat), hygienic measures for safer fresh salads and seafood, etc.