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EWG Calls for Evidence Supporting FDA's Sweeping Assurances of Melamine

For Immediate Release: 
Friday, May 4, 2007

(WASHINGTON, May 4) - In letter sent today to the new point person in charge of food safety at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook called on the agency to back up its claims that melamine is not a danger to the public's health by disclosing its scientific research and analysis that brought the agency to that conclusion. To date, over 8,500 pet deaths have been reported.

"The first major issue you face in your new position, melamine contamination in food, is certainly the perfect place for you to begin turning around the public's well-founded and growing doubt about FDA's ability to ensure the safety of our food supply," wrote Cook in his letter to Dr. David Acheson, who earlier in the week assured the American people they had nothing to worry about.

Previous EWG investigations revealed that the FDA issued similar assurances of safety about the food supply for the contaminants mercury and benzene without the science or the risk assessments to back them up.

EWG researchers are particularly interested in FDA analyses and findings related to:

  • The levels and extent of melamine in the food supply, including historic levels;
  • Risks for people who eat chicken, pork, or other melamine-contaminated foods frequently;
  • Risks for people who may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of melamine because of pre-existing health problems such as kidney disease;
  • Data available to FDA to fill the significant gaps noted in the International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC's) most recent review of melamine, in which IARC determined that melamine can cause cancer in animals but also noted a complete absence of reproductive studies, developmental data, and studies of the safety of melamine in cases of human exposure.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. The group's research on melamine is viewable online at http://www.ewg.org/issues/toxics/20070504/.

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