The global alcoholic beverage market is valued at over $1.5 billion, making alcoholic beverages a prime target for adulteration. Types of adulteration include addition of water, ethanol not meant for human consumption, methanol, and artificial sweeteners. NIR spectroscopy is a proven method for detection of an adulterant in alcoholic beverages.
Soya bean is a common protein source in animal feed and melamine, a plasticizer that mimics protein in routine quality tests, has been used as an adulterant in pet food. A high profile incident in China with melamine adulteration resulted in thousands of animal deaths. NIR spectroscopy offers a potential method for fast, non-invasive detection of melamine in pet food.
Dairy products are the target of various types of adulteration, such as melamine addition in baby formula, milk powder adulteration with non-fat solids and inorganic salts, and various impurities in butter and yogurt. NIR spectroscopy has been studied for various types of dairy adulterant detection, showing the potential to replace traditional expensive and time-consuming methods.
Edible oils present a prime target for adulteration, especially in the case of extra virgin oil (EVOO). Strict standards and regulations exist and visual examination is usually insufficient to determine if an EVOO does not meet standards. NIR spectroscopy is an excellent tool for determining the presence of adulterants in edible oils.
Fish and seafood are considered valuable products in the worldwide food market and the large variety of products creates a large import market. NIR spectroscopy can be used to detect various types of seafood adulteration, such as adding lower grade crab meat to a more expensive variety, repeated frozen thawed cycles, and farm bred fish sold as fresh farm fish.
A massive amount of wheat and wheat products are consumed by humans, making such products a prime target for adulteration. Types of wheat adulteration include adding cheaper bread wheat to durum wheat, ricin contamination, and representing a product that contains gluten as gluten-free. NIR spectroscopy offers an alternative method to traditional expensive and time-consuming methods for detecting adulteration in wheat.
By definition, honey is a pure and valuable product that does not allow for the addition of any other substance. Because of its value, it is subject to adulteration by cheaper sweeteners like cane sugar, beet sugar, and high fructose corn syrup as well as by misrepresentation of origin. Studies have been conducted using NIR spectroscopy as a method for determining adulteration in honey.
Meat products make up a large and valuable portion of the worldwide food market, making them a prime target for adulteration. Meat adulteration often consists of adding a lower grade meat to a higher grade one, such as a high profile incident in England where horsemeat was found in burgers at a prominent supermarket chain, resulting in a large drop in market value. NIR spectroscopy shows excellent potential for detecting the presence of an adulterant in meat products.
Sugar based drinks and coffee make up a large portion of the non-alcoholic beverages market and can be subject to adulteration. Sugar drinks can be diluted with water or a cheaper sweetener while coffee can be adulterated by adding foreign substances or adding a cheap brand of coffee to a more expensive one. NIR spectroscopy has been examined as a method for adulteration detection in various types of non-alcoholic beverages.
Spices have been considered a high value target for adulteration going back to ancient times. Methods have evolved from the simple addition of undesirable compounds to deliberate adulteration designed to mask the presence of adulteration and cheat quality control tests. NIR spectroscopy has the potential to detect adulteration in many types of spices while being able to evolve as a method as different types of adulteration are created.