IIT student invents new method to detect milk adulteration

The issue of milk adulteration has become so widespread in India that everyone including the consumers, the media, NGOs, scientists and government officials seem to be clamoring to put an end to this nasty practice. This issue requires urgent action since it is threatening the health of everyone including children, adults and the old. Now, it appears that the issue of milk adulteration has caught the attention of the best brains in the country. 23-year old Avisek Barla, a final year B-Tech student from IIT Madras, has invented a new technique to detect milk adulteration. This simple and cheap technique is likely to contribute significantly towards winning the war against milk adulteration.

The new milk adulteration test kit

The new test kit to detect milk adulteration invented by Avisek Barla has already won the Gandhian Young Technical Innovation (GYTI) Award. The test kit is easy to use because it contains nothing more than a strip of paper, which detects milk adulterants in just a few seconds. The test kit is not only easy to use but also quite easy to manufacture on a commercial scale. Speaking to the media, Avisek said that the strip is divided into different zones and each zone has a different reagent applied to it. In layman’s terms, reagents are chemicals that react to a certain compound and display a specific characteristic such as a change in color or texture. When exposed to adulterated milk, the reagents on the strip change color to exactly identify the type of adulterant present in the milk.

According to Avisek, his milk adulteration test strip can detect as many as four adulterants in a single test – glucose, urea, boric acid and detergent. To make the strips, Avisek used a standard inkjet printer to “print” the chemicals on the paper in small amounts. He said that his invention is extremely cost-effective since the standard equipment used to detect milk adulteration costs around Rs 2 lakh and maintenance and test costs associated with these systems are also high. In comparison, his test strip would cost just around Rs 1.60 to manufacture.

Great for milk consumers and milk distributors

The cost of Rs 1.60 for the milk adulteration test kit is quite affordable for both milk consumers and milk distributors. Consumers can use the strip at their home, and milk distributors can use it to test milk before buying from farmers. When commercial production of the strip begins, it will provide an easy and cost-effective way to test milk adulteration. Avisek and his team are currently working to improve the strip so that it can detect several other types ofmilk adulterants.

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