It is widely used. And the practice of adding powdered and even scrap melamine to grain products--a cheap and only "mildy toxic" (!) way to artificially boost protein readings and market prices--did not become popular on a China-wide basis overnight, either.
We who live and dine in America might as well get used to the idea that we've probably already consumed an unidentified amount of melamine and, what's more, that we may have been doing so for as long as sixteen years (read the last sentence of the excerpt, emphasis mine):
Also at Shakesville.
BEIJING (Reuters) - Melamine is so popular as a protein lookalike feed additive that at least one Chinese manufacturer is believed to have torn down buildings to get to leftover scraps, industry officials said on Monday.
Melamine, used in making plastic and fertilizers, was blamed for killing pets in the United States and South America last month after it was found in wheat gluten and rice protein exported from China for use in pet food.
More than 100 brands of pet food were recalled, triggering a round of finger-pointing among pet food suppliers in the U.S. China last week said it would ban melamine-tainted protein products from export and from domestic markets.Melamine scrap is believed to be commonly mixed in animal feed in China to artificially boost the protein level, especially in soymeal, tricking feedlots and farmers into paying more for feed for chickens and pigs.
"The chemical plant next to us used the melamine scrap as waste for landfill and built houses on it. Then they tore down the buildings to get the scrap once the price rose," said a manager with Tai'an Yongfeng Feedmill Co. Ltd in the coastal province of Shandong.
"It is a very popular business here. I know people have been mixing this since 1991."