Nuts. I may have been poisoning myself in the past year.

You’ve probably heard about the Chinese melamine-tainted milk product scandal that’s also affecting Taiwan. Well, guess what. One of the products that’s been recalled recently is a liquid coffee creamer that comes in little cylindrical packages that have a tear-off foil cover. I’ve probably been consuming two or three of those things each work day for the past year. (Diluted in one small cup of coffee apiece.)

I don’t know if you guys would know anything beyond what’s being reported in the news, but would consistent daily low-level exposure to a toxin like this give me long-term problems?

FWIW, and thanks be to the Internet, I found one interesting WHO document that partly addressed my worries:

From what I can gather, I’d have to be chugging down the stuff in sufficient quantities to give myself bladder stones before I might face a cancer risk.

But I know we’ve got very knowledgable Dopers here, and I’d be interested to hear your opinion.

I’m sure someone will come in to offer more, but in the meantime. . .

When it was in pet food, IIRC, animals were dying from kidney failure. I’m not sure how that translates to humans, but go and get your kidney and liver functions tested – just to be sure. (Sorry, no cites. My google-fu is pathetic. And I don’t have time to dig any deeper.)

Talk to your Doctor.

The animals that I saw were in kidney failure due to melamine toxicity. I have no idea what your exposure implies as to your health, but your physician would likely do some blood work.

Also, don’t forget that while melamine alone might not be that toxic immediately, it’s long term effects might contribute enough to make you wish it had. After all, it’s not the only toxin, so if you’re exposed to others, melamine might be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

In a similar vein, nobody’s sure how long it takes to leave the system, it tends to just sit in your kidneys for at least a couple years. So there’s a possibility that somewhere down the line you’ll be exposed to something that might react in a negative way with the remaining melamine, and while each alone might be survivable, the combination might be extremely toxic.

Nothing like that “ticking time bomb” feeling to help you wake each morning as you sip your morning coffee. :slight_smile:

It’s doubtful you poisoned yourself. According to the US FDA, the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) of melamine is 0.63 mg/kg body weight per day. A 150 pound man (68kg) can safely take about 43mg of melamine. Each of your coffee creamers is about 12g. According to the Chinese testers, the most contaminated milk has 2.56g of melamine per kilogram. Based on my sketchy math, that’s 0.03 mg per creamer.* That’s assuming your creamer was 100% of the most contaminated milk tested. In the article, the next most contaminated milk was about 25% of the most contaminated, so you could have taken in much less than that. It doesn’t seem so bad now, does it Koxinga?

  • Please check my calculations; I left my math brain at work. I’m not sure if I shifted the decimal point properly. Regardless, it’s much less than the FDA expects to cause you problems. Using math, you can see why the little babies had more problems with melamine than adults.

2.56g per kg is 0.256% by weight. Assuming the creamers have the same concentration as whatever the testers tested, then 12g creamer contains up to 30.72 mg. Remember, creamers can have concentrated solids and such.

Creamers can also be totally non-dairy.

Read the label, Koxinga, & get back to us.

Way to freak the poor dude out! Our very careful American doctors told us that the contaminated liquid milk is still considered safe up to two gallons a day (of course just to be sure they told us not to drink it.) These doctors are very careful. They will evacuate us to Thailand if we have a toothache. They sent everyone home during SARS. I have a great deal of trust in them. If they felt like blood tests and whatever was needed due to casual exposure, they would already be done by now.

This is killing babies because they are tiny things and they have been drinking only these products for months. You are a much bigger person ingesting a much smaller amount. I’m almost 99% sure it’s not going to affect you at all.

I really appreciate all you guys’s answers. (youse guys?) Both the cautions to get checked out and the clear-headed calculations showing I shouldn’t worry overmuch.

Health officials are supposed to be giving free checkups on this issue, and I might take advantage of it.

If the doctor’s name is Manuel Casiano, I’d just skip the checkup. Sometimes it’s better to just leave things be.