Melamine Detection Methods
- Melamine has been detected in products such as baby formula and pet food.baby's bottle image by Georgios Alexandris from Fotolia.com
Melamine is an inexpensive compound made up of nitrogen, carbon and hydrogen and has become a topic of discussion since investigators found it was used in bulking up baby formulas in China. With over 1,200 babies sick and two dead, the use of melamine is clearly a cause for concern. While melamine originally had a benign purpose of being used in kitchen plastics in the 1950's and 1960's--it is now being added as filler to an array of products like livestock feed and pet food. Melamine is not technically toxic, but it can cause renal failure and kidney stones, which can lead to more serious problems.
- Since the nitrogen molecules in milk resemble the nitrogen molecules in melamine, it is not detected via protein assay testing. However, when dealing with the infrared light spectrum, melamine has absorption bands that are specifically and noticeably different than those of dairy products. This quality makes melamine detection possible by the use of infrared spectroscopy, even at low levels of concentration. The test is quick and easy and doesn't require special training or melamine powder extraction from the source.
- ELISA, or Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, is a fast and reliable detection kit for melamine in a range of products including pet food, dairy products, wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate. With incubation periods totaling only 50 minutes, it is the ideal choice for rapid melamine detection in food.
Unmodified Gold Nanoparticles
- This new and inexpensive method of melamine detection uses unmodified gold nanoparticles, according to a study published by Applied Physics Letter. The gold nanoparticles are combined with a dual color and precipitation test and the interaction of the gold nanoparticles and melamine creates a color change in the solution. A huge benefit of this particular method is that the entire test takes 15 minutes to complete. This method is primarily for melamine detection in milk and could prove to be extremely useful in early detection in developing countries.