Home News Swiss scientists develop test for melamine

Swiss scientists develop test for melamine

Published on 20/01/2009

ZURICH - Swiss researchers developed a faster technique to detect the presence of melamine in liquids, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (EPFZ) announced Monday.

The chemical was at the centre of a food safety scandal in China since September 2008. Detecting melamine in liquid previously took between 20 and 60 minutes, but the Swiss team’s new method cut the time to 30 seconds.

The scientists used a technique known as mass spectrometry to cut testing time, said Renato Zenobi, professor of analytical chemistry at the Organic Chemistry Laboratory at EPFZ.

Mass spectrometry is a technique used to measure the masses of atoms and molecules in a material or liquid.

Farmers and milk wholesalers in China caused controversy in 2008 after it emerged some mixed melamine into their milk products to make them appear richer in protein content. The chemical is normally used to manufacture glue, resin and plastics.

Since the September 2008 scandal, almost 300,000 children became ill and six died, according to Chinese authorities.

The discovery shocked consumers both in China and abroad, with many countries banning Chinese products containing milk.

[AFP / Expatica]