January 22, 2009


US researchers develop rapid melamine detection technology


A research team at Purdue University in the US has created an analysis method to detect melamine levels in the low parts-per-billion (ppb) in milk and milk powder in about 25 seconds.


The new method pairs mass spectrometry with a low-temperature plasma ionisation probe technique.


Mass spectrometry is a technique used to measure the masses of atoms and molecules in a material or liquid, and is known for its sensitivity and accuracy.


Ambient ionisation methods can greatly reduce the time-intensive and sometimes difficult requirements of mass spectrometers, enabling the experiment to be done at a rate of two samples per minute, said R. Graham Cooks, the leader of the research team.


This method provides the sensitivity, specificity and the quantitative accuracy needed to meet the current urgent requirements for a simple and reliable melamine determination in complex mixtures, said Cooks.


Even without direct contamination, trace amounts of melamine sometimes make their way into edible products because the chemical is used in manufacturing and is found in many packaging materials, according to Cooks.

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