China assesses melamine’s impact


Catherine Zhang, contributing editor reporting from London, England

Published on
August 25, 2009

Melamine-tainted crab feed caused USD 70 million (EUR 49 million) in losses in China’s eastern province of Anhui last year, affecting nearly 300 farmers, China’s Ministry of Agriculture reported this week.

Many of the crabs, raised for export throughout the Asia-Pacific region, were found dead. According to local farmers, freshwater crabs in more than 20 acres of ponds perished from melamine-tainted feed a year ago, during the peak of China’s crab breeding season in August. Melamine is used to boost seafood’s protein content.

Traces of melamine in Chinese-produced milk powder that sickened hundreds of thousands of children were also found in fish feed and consequently in Chinese seafood exports last year.

The tainted crabs were found to have softened shells and bodies after they were fed nitrogen-rich melamine, commonly used to manufacture plastics and dishware. Ingesting melamine can lead to urinary problems such as kidney stones and even renal failure.

Beijing is working to restore confidence in the country’s food supply.

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