Advance in detecting melamine-adulterated food

May 13, 2009
Scientists are reporting that gene-altering substances called alkaloids are released in forest fires. Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Researchers in Indiana are reporting an advance toward faster, more sensitive tests for detecting melamine, the substance that killed at least 6 children and sickened 300,000 children in China who drank milk and infant formula adulterated with the substance. The improved tests may ease global concerns about food safety, the researchers say. Their report is scheduled for the May 27 issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

In the new study, Lisa Mauer and colleagues note that tests already exist for , which is widely used in plastics. Certain food manufacturers, however, have added melamine to food products marketed for humans and domestic pets to boost apparent protein content. Conventional tests, however, tend to be too slow, insensitive, and too complex for large-scale food screening applications. Researchers say that better detection tests are needed, particularly in the wake of new U.S. (FDA) guidelines limiting melamine in dairy products to 1 part per million (ppm) or less.

The scientists describe a trio of promising detection methods based on near- and mid-infrared spectroscopy, analytical techniques that identify a substance based on its chemical fingerprint when exposed to specific kinds of light. In laboratory studies, the scientists used these tests to screen spiked with different concentrations of melamine. They found that these methods accurately detected the substance at levels as low as 1 ppm, meeting the new FDA detection guidelines. The techniques take as little as 5 minutes to detect melamine and are relatively simple to use, requiring little or no sample preparation.

More information: Journal of Agricultural and Chemistry, “Melamine Detection in Infant Formula Powder Using Near- and Mid-Infrared Spectroscopy”

Provided by American Chemical Society (news : web)

Explore further: Novel 'butterfly' molecule could build new sensors, photoenergy conversion devices

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

More Chinese wheat gluten is recalled

Apr 04, 2007

A U.S. pharmaceutical and nutritional chemicals company has recalled all possibly contaminated wheat gluten it has imported from a Chinese supplier.

Dry dog, cat food products recalled

May 14, 2007

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the voluntary nationwide recall of various Sensible Choice and Kasco dry dog and cat food products.

Recommended for you

Protein glue shows potential for use with biomaterials

11 hours ago

Researchers at the University of Milan in Italy have shown that a synthetic protein called AGMA1 has the potential to promote the adhesion of brain cells in a laboratory setting. This could prove helpful ...

Breaking benzene

Aug 27, 2014

Aromatic compounds are found widely in natural resources such as petroleum and biomass, and breaking the carbon-carbon bonds in these compounds plays an important role in the production of fuels and valuable ...

User comments : 0