In early 2007, the first melamine recalls were issued on pet food imported from China. Based on information obtained from an article in USA Today, "melamine may have deliberately been used to fake higher levels of protein." Many cats and dogs were poisoned to death by this chemical, which is loaded with nitrogen. Once the news broke, and as more and more recalls were being reported, many people began to question the safety of melamine in other products as well.
According to the child safety site Safe Mama, "Melamine is an organic compound that is often combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin, a synthetic polymer which is fire resistant and heat tolerant." The resin is shaped under extreme heat and pressure to form various kitchen products, including mixing bowls. The first melamine bowls were introduced in 1937 during World War II, when Navy shipmen carried these aboard because they were unbreakable.
Industrial uses of melamine products, such as mixing bowls, are stable and completely safe; however, these products cannot be used in microwaves and must be hand washed with a smooth cloth to avoid scratching. The dangerous effects from melamine involve the ingestion of this chemical. If ingested in sufficient amounts, melamine can cause kidney failure. According to endowmentmed.org, "chronic exposure may even cause cancer or reproductive damage."
According to the DSM website, "the levels at which melamine causes toxicity are in the same range as table salt and alcohol." Melamine, alone, is nontoxic and is not metabolised by the body; instead, it is released in the urine. This compound becomes more dangerous when combined with cyanuric acid to form a crystalized structure that settles in the kidneys.
Although the recent melamine scares have caused concern amongst Americans, this compound has been around for a long time. "People have been living and working with melamine in a large number of consumer product applications for more than four decades," according to DSM.
Although research suggests that melamine bowls are nontoxic and safe to use, the thought of these chemicals getting anywhere near our food may still sound a bit scary. For a safer choice, opt instead for glass mixing bowls. In addition to their long-lasting durability, glass products never leach contaminate chemicals into foods. They are safe for use in microwaves, and can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
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