Melamine measured in milk by a simple UV method

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  • Published: Jul 17, 2015
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: UV/Vis Spectroscopy
thumbnail image: Melamine measured in milk by a simple UV method

A simple UV spectroscopic method for measuring melamine in contaminated milk with a portable instrument has the great advantage of being cheaper than current methods.

The discovery of melamine in milk and milk products in China in 2008 led to nearly 300,000 babies and infants becoming ill, some of whom died. The awful tragedy was made worse by the knowledge that the contaminant had been added deliberately to bulk out the products, so the incident and fallout could have been completely avoided.

The scientific world leapt into action and developed several methods for detecting and measuring melamine in milk, infant formula and other products and the research continues. Now, Chinese scientists have developed a method which they say is better than many published alternatives because it is quick and simple and uses cheap instrumentation, all of which lend it to onsite monitoring.

The method, described in Journal of Food Quality, uses gold nanoparticles which form aggregates in the presence of melamine so that their colour changes from red to purple. Importantly, the change is proportional to the amount of melamine present, so that it can be measured by UV spectroscopy.

The procedure is very similar to another method that was reported in in 2010 but it uses a portable spectrometer, and takes only 15 minutes, which includes sample pre-treatment with ethanol. The detection limits of both method are comparable.

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