Purdue Technology Detects Contaminant in Milk Products

January 22, 2009

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

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

FDA (Rockville, MD) issued new guidelines in November limiting melamine in dairy products to 1 part-per-million or less.

"This situation created an immediate need for an analytical method that is highly sensitive, fast, accurate and easy to use," said R. Graham Cooks, professor of chemistry, who led the team that developed the analysis method.

"We took it as a challenge to use simpler instrumentation and to develop a faster method that allows the testing to be done on site and does not require pretreatment of samples."

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

Mass spectrometry is a commonly used analysis method known for its sensitivity and accuracy; however, most available mass spectrometers require that a sample be pretreated and remain in the controlled environment of a vacuum for analysis, Cooks said.

"There is a growing need in our society for detailed chemical information that calls for the special capabilities of mass spectrometers," he said. "Researchers are working to make these devices faster, easier to use and more portable. Perhaps one day everyone will have a mass spectrometer to analyze whatever comes their way."