Foodborne Illness Outbreak Database

This database provides summaries of significant food and water related outbreaks occurring since 1984 caused by E. coli, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Campylobacter and other pathogens. Read more »

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2008 Melamine in Chinese Milk and Powdered Infant Formula

For months, melamine was added to milk and powdered infant formula in China. Melamine is a chemical that is used to make plastics; it is high in nitrogen, which makes milk appear to have a higher protein content when tested. Addition of melamine into food was not approved by the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius (food standard commission), or by any national authorities. Almost 300,000 people were made ill by the milk and infant formula due to kidney stone formation(urolithiasis), and kidney failure. Sanlu was one of the companies that produced infant formula. There was evidence that the tainted milk had been used to make other products. The Chinese maker of White Rabbit Candy which was made from milk stopped sales of candy after finding melamine in its product. This product had international distribution. The World Health Organization was first notified of the toxic milk products on September 11, by then the products had been marketed to Chinese consumers for months. In 2007, melamine was found in wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate that was exported from China and used in the manufacture of pet food in the USA. This caused the deaths of many dogs and cats due to kidney failure. These outbreaks were examples of criminal action for short term gain leading to large scale health impact. Company officials were put on trial and ultimately were severely punished including two death penalty sentences. In December, 2009, Chinese authorities closed the Shanghai Panda dairy after again detecting melamine in milk powder.

  • Outbreak began:
  • Unknown 2008
  • Affected Country:
  • International
  • Affected States/Territories:
  • Not Applicable
  • Organism(s):
  • Chemical
  • Vehicle(s):
  • Dairy, Milk Dairy, Powdered Infant Formula
  • Molecular Results Available:
  • Unknown
  • Test Results:
  • None
  • Location(s):
  • Many
  • Brand Name(s):
  • Sanlu
  • Product Subject to Recall:
  • Unknown
  • Total ill:
  • 294000
  • Number ill by Case Definition Known:
  • Unknown
  • Number Laboratory Confirmed Cases:
  • N/A
  • Number Probable Cases:
  • N/A
  • Number Possible Cases:
  • N/A
  • Anyone Hospitalized:
  • Yes
  • Number Hospitalized:
  • 54000
  • Any Deaths:
  • Yes
  • Number Dead:
  • 6

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