Rockville, Md., August 26, 2010 Recent incidents of adulteration involving infant formula, other milk products and pet food with the industrial chemical melamine revealed the weaknesses of current methods widely used across the domestic and global food industry for determining protein content in foods. The possible utility of alternative existing and emerging methods is the subject of a new paper published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, a peer-reviewed journal of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). The paper, now available online, is authored by a team of experts led by Jeffrey Moore, Ph.D., of the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). USP publishes the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC), a compendium of quality standards for food ingredients.
The paper examines how reliance on 19th century methodsprimarily the Kjeldahl method and the combustion (Dumas) methodfor measuring total protein content in foods and the lack of more specific methods allowed for the adulteration of protein-based foods with melamine and related nonprotein compounds in 2007 and 2008. Rather than quantifying protein content, these methods rely on total nitrogen determination as a marker to estimate the amount of protein in a foodand are the current standard for the food industry. Such approaches may allow unscrupulous parties to fool these tests simply by adding a cheap organic compound containing nitrogen, which can result in severe physical damage to humans and animals as well as financial consequences for food producers and consumers through price increases, market disruptions, trade restrictions, product liability costs, loss of revenues and brand damages.
"While the globalization of the food industry has provided consumers with a seemingly endless number of choices and year-round availability to enhance their diets, the events of 2007 and 2008 have shown that it may also introduce new risksleaving the industry as a whole and individual consum
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