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How Not to Make a Melamine Sandwich

May 10, 2007

If you are up to speed at all on the fact that melamine and cyanuric acid, which in tandem can cause kidney failure, are present in the human food chain, do not despair. With a few graduate courses in cytobiology, plant physiology, and biochemistry, you can easily prepare yourself to avoid exposure to these chemicals. Life doesn’t have to be hard.

First you can take some simple measures: read the list of ingredients on everything you purchase to eat. Convenience foods just became very inconvenient. And forget eating out. To be effective at this, you must learn the various aliases under which gluten may travel.

People with sprue, or celiac disease, who cannot tolerate gluten at all, are already prepared for this. They have laid a helpful foundation no one thought would ever be needed. Numerous websites on gluten-free diets exist. This gluten-free prescription diet from, is most helpful, because it condenses a great deal of information, obviating most of the necessity for the courses I suggested above. For instance, the site provides alternative names and substrates that might tend to make the presence of gluten obscure on a label’s list of ingredients:

“Ingredients marked as additives, cereals, and cereal grains, colorings, emulsifiers, excipients, derivatives of gluten, flavorings or malt, hydrolyzed plant protein (HHP), hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), preservatives, starches, and modified food starches, vegetable gum, and vinegar—may be derivatives of a gluten-containing grain.”

See how easy life can be? And of course, you will need to avoid baking powder, as all commercial baking powders contain fillers that might contain gluten. But then, you can’t use ordinary wheat flour anyway, so what would you bake, arrowroot brownies?

If all of this drives you to drink, you are probably all right if you stick with white wine (German Riesling or Mosel but not French Moselle) or potato vodka.

Realistically, it is generally only foods containing grains, flavorings, leavening agents, or plant products (or animals that ate them) that we need to be concerned about. The human food chain is more secure than we think. Black tea and coffee are fine.

Oh, and if you decide to write your congressman and demand that we stop importing foodstuffs from China, which has a particularly negligent habit of adding melamine and cyanuric acid to the gluten it leads the world in producing, you should use a self-sealing envelope and a self-sticking stamp. The glue on envelopes and stamps, it seems, contains gluten.

  1. McBlog permalink
    May 10, 2007 3:55 pm

    Please pass the Chopin.

  2. May 10, 2007 5:26 pm

    Excellent choice, but you really must try Luksusowa.

  3. McBlog permalink
    May 11, 2007 7:19 am

    Consider it done.

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