New test developed to detect melamine in milk products

Monday 9 August 2010

Chinese scientists claim to have developed a quick and simple colour change test to detect melamine in milk products.

The search for a rapid and effective test for melamine was made a priority following the contamination scandal in 2008, when tainted milk powder killed six children and sickened an estimated 300,000.

Writing in the peer-reviewed Talanta journal, researchers, funded by the Chinese Ministry of Health, said existing methods of detection offer a high degree of sensitivity but can be costly, time consuming and labour intensive.

In their search for a simpler alternative, they developed a colorimetric method using gold nanoparticles. The test relies on the fact that when gold nanoparticles approach each other and aggregate, their colour changes from wine red to purple (blue).

Because melamine kicks off this process, gold nanoparticles can be used as colorimetric probes to test for the toxin.

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