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IIT-M researchers develop device to detect milk adulteration in 30 seconds

Paper-based portable device can also used to test water, fresh juices, and milkshakes

Indian Institute of Technology Madras, IIT Madras, IIT-M

Shine Jacob Chennai

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Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) have developed a paper-based portable device that can be used at homes to detect milk adulteration within 30 seconds.

It detects commonly used adulterating agents like urea, detergents, soap, starch, hydrogen peroxide, sodium-hydrogen-carbonate, and salt.

Unlike expensive and time-consuming conventional laboratory methods, the 3D device is affordable and it can also be used to test water, fresh juices, and milkshakes for adulteration. A millilitre of any liquid would be enough as a sample to test for adulterants.

“The 3D paper-based microfluidic device is made up of a top and bottom cover and a sandwich structure middle layer. This 3D design works well for transporting denser liquids at a consistent speed. The paper is treated with reagents and is let to dry. Both paper layers are adhered to both sides of the support after drying, and the covers adhere with double-sided tape. Whatman filter paper grade 4 is used in this design, which aids liquid flow and allows for the storage of more reagents,” said Pallab Sinha Mahapatra, who teaches at department of mechanical engineering, IIT Madras.

“All the reagents are dissolved either in distilled water or in ethanol, depending upon their solubility. Using colorimetric detection techniques, all the adulterants are detected in different liquid samples. It is inferred from the investigation that the reagent only reacts with the specific adulterant in this method and not with any milk ingredients. Hence, this analytical tool can help to monitor liquid food safety and thereby increase the traceability of tainted milk in remote areas of developing countries,” he added.
IIT-M milk kit
Milk is one of the most adulterated food items, especially in developing countries like India, Pakistan, China, and Brazil. Consumption of adulterated milk could cause medical complications such as kidney problems, infant death, gastrointestinal complications, diarrhoea, and even cancer.

This research was led by Mahapatra, along with Research Scholars Subhashis Patari and Priyankan Datta. They co-authored a research paper that has been published in the prestigious peer-review journal 'Nature'.

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First Published: Mar 27 2023 | 1:47 PM IST

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