used to detect melamine
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readily available to health officials and businesses, a Purdue University
researcher has found a way to detect trace amounts of melamine in infant
formula. Using infrared lasers and light spectroscopy methods, Lisa Mauer,
an Associate Professor of food science, was able to detect melamine in baby
formula at one part per million in about five minutes or less. Melamine, a
synthetic chemical used in plastics and other products, has been found in
baby formula and other milk-based products imported from China.
unadulterated samples of powdered formula and measured the samples using
near- and mid-infrared spectroscopy techniques. Infrared laser beams
reflected off the sample and toward a detector, which calculated how much
of the laser's energy was absorbed by the sample and created an absorbance
spectrum that was unique to the sample.
The same data were collected for pure melamine. When the formula was mixed
with melamine and analyzed, the new spectrum was compared to that of the
unadulterated formula, showing the concentration of melamine in the sample.
Federal guidelines allow
for only one part per million of melamine in infant formula and up to two
and a half parts per million in other products. Having an inexpensive and
quick test would make it easier to test imported or domestically made
products for melamine.
The research is published
in the Journal of
Agricultural and Food Chemistry.