Detecting melamine in milk Codex endorses joint ISO IDF guidelines


7 April 2011

Guidelines developed by ISO and the International Dairy Federation (IDF) to help prevent a recurrence of the crisis caused by milk adulterated with melamine, that affected thousands of children have been endorsed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the United Nations body responsible for food safety that protects the health of consumers and helps to ensure fair trade practices in the food trade.

In 2008, a number of children died and many became seriously ill after drinking milk contaminated by melamine. The substance, which is used in the manufacturing of fire-retardant plastics, had been added to milk sold by some companies in order to make it appear to have a higher protein content. In humans, ingestion of melamine can cause kidney stones and renal failure. This is particularly dangerous for babies and small children for whom it can prove fatal.

To help detect and prevent future adulterated milk products from entering the market,ISO and IDF prepared technical specification (TS) Milk, milk products and infant formulae – Guidelines for the quantitative determination of melamine and cyanuric acid by LC-MS/MS, ISO/TS 15495 | IDF/RM 230:2010, which was published in 2010.

At its 32nd session in March 2011 Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling (CCMAS) endorsed the joint IDF/ISO guidelines for milk, milk products, and infant formula. The endorsement of these guidelines means that an internationally harmonised procedure has now been approved to allow authorities to check the level of melamine in powdered infant formula against the recently adopted Codex maximum level of 1 mg melamine per kg of product.

CCMAS is recommending this method for final adoption by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in July 2011. Codex has already adopted more than 60 joint IDF/ISO standards for methods of analysis, to facilitate international trade in dairy products and protect the consumer.

'These current recommended guidelines provide a robust means for regulatory authorities, manufacturers, and producers to ensure the integrity and safety of tested milk and derivative products and help prevent further incidents,' says Professor Árpád Ambrus, Chair of the CCMAS.

'The availability of the method will help reinforce consumer confidence in the milk industry's ability to guarantee safe and nutritious products. It also clearly demonstrates the strength of IDF and ISO's collaboration, especially on food safety/public health and protection,' says Richard Doyle, President of the IDF.

ISO/TS 15495 | IDF/RM 230:2010 will be useful for dairy producers and suppliers, milk product and infant formulae manufacturers, regulatory and testing authorities, equipment suppliers, and the food industry in general.

Related Standard

  • ISO/TS 15495:2010 Milk, milk products and infant formulae – Guidelines for the quantitative determination of melamine and cyanuric acid by LC-MS/MS

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