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Glossary Term: Melamine


Definition: Melamine (mel-uh-meen')

Melamine is known to many people as a type of dinnerware, the hard plastic material used to make colorful kitchenware, floor and counter laminates, ready-to-assemble furniture among other common household items. Now, with recent headlines detailing the pet food recall, the public has learned another thing about melamine -- it is toxic when eaten.

Melamine is also used as a fertilizer in Asia, but is not approved for use in the United States.1

Ingestion of melamine in animal studies has shown that clinical signs may include: cancer, kidney stones or reproductive damage.2 Melamine as a single agent has low toxicity; veterinary officials are not sure yet how this is causing such severe symptoms (kidney failure) and death. The role of the toxic agent first identified by the New York State Agriculture and Markets Food Laboratory, aminopterin is also unclear, as neither Cornell nor the FDA could confirm the presence of aminopterin in food samples.2

Related Reading:
Pet Food Recall: Melamine Found in Tainted Food

1 Melamine: The Chemical Found in Recalled Pet Food
2Chemical Sampling Information Melamine

Veterinary Glossary Index

Pronunciation: mel-uh-meen'
Veterinary researchers are working hard to determine the role of melamine in the pet food recall.
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