Melamine (2,4,6-triamine-1 ,3,5-triazine, No CAS 108-78-1) is a chemical product which may be present in food as a result of its use in materials which come into contact with food, (plastic objects, the covering of tins, paper, cardboard and adhesives), as a product of the degradation of ciromazine used as a plant protection product, veterinary medicine, and flame retardant or as a consequence of the illegal adulteration of foodstuffs and feed.
In 2008, as a result of the high levels of melamine found in milk and other dairy products specially prepared for newborn infants and small children coming from China, an emergency Community measure was introduced banning the import into the EU of dairy products from China via Decision 2008/798/EC of the Commission of 14 October 2008.
On 18 March 2010, at the request of the Commission, the EFSA approved a scientific opinion on melamine in food and feed. The conclusions of this opinion show that exposure to melamine can produce crystals in the urinary tracts. These crystals produce proximal tubular lesions which have been observed in animals and children owing to incidents caused by the adulteration of animal feed and infant formulae with melamine, which in some cases has resulted in death. In children who received infant formulae adulterated with a relatively pure preparation of melamine, the crystals took the form of melamine crystals with uric acid which is produced naturally in urine.
For the purposes of protection of public health in the European Union, Regulation (EC) 1881/2006 has been amended to include the maximum levels recommended in the conclusions of the EFSA opinion. Regulation (EU) 594/2012 of 5 July 2012 amending Regulation (EC) 1881/2006, introduces a new Section 7 which establishes the maximum content of melamine levels in foodstuffs.