Published: 28th October 2021
IISc's new technique to check adulteration in milk is not just cheap but doesn't require any equipment either
Virkeshwar Kumar, a postdoctoral researcher, and Susmita Dash, an assistant professor at IISc, developed the method, and believe it can be revolutionary
The issue of milk adulteration is rampant in India, with the practice of adding urea and water becoming common practice. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have made a breakthrough discovery, combating the problem with a method to detect contaminants through evaporation.
Virkeshwar Kumar, a postdoctoral researcher, and Susmita Dash, an assistant professor at IISc, developed the method, and believe it can be revolutionary in its cost-effectiveness, and the lack of equipment needed to conduct the test. The method is able to detect when milk has been contaminated with water and urea, two of the most common contaminants in the dairy product. The team had found differences in the structure of evaporated, undiluted, diluted, and urea-contaminated milk that led to the breakthrough.
The two contaminants are used as a way to dilute milk while keeping its colour and frothiness intact. The increasing amounts of urea in milk, in particular, have led to concerns about the health of citizens, especially in rural areas where testing is expensive and inaccessible. Current testing methods require the use of a lactometer, specifically for water, or bio-sensors to test for urea. However, both methods are known to have a number of limitations, in addition to being expensive.
There have been numerous cases and reports on the issue of milk adulteration in India, with a case being reported in Thane as recently as August. With this new method, testing for the contamination of milk can prevent people, particularly from rural areas, from being affected by subpar milk. “It does not require a laboratory or other specialised processes, and can be easily adapted for use even in remote areas and rural places,” said Kumar.