Private Honey Adulteration Testing is the only way to solve the problem of Honey Adulteration in the United States.
This means every company that uses honey in its food products needs to have the honey they are buying tested for additives. The FDA’s disinterest in ensuring that honey consumed in the United States is pure is the major cause of this problem. They do not require testing of any imported honey, they allow trace amounts of antibiotics in honey, and they have no established incentive to buy local honey over imported honey.
Cheap Honey Adulteration Tests
I wrote about this topic last month in this article. My final undergraduate projects lab requires us to develop a project that involves Chemical Engineering concepts and impacts the community or the school.
After developing a one-page slide proposal (shown below) and a 3 minute pitch, my project was chosen as one of the few that moved forward. Nothing made me more excited than being chosen to lead my own project, but nothing made me more nervous either.
I’m now two weeks into the project and am working with two excellent partners. We’ve changed some of the initial ideas involved in the proposal to better align our tests with what was available at our school.
What we’re planning and how to do it
First, we are testing seven different kinds of honey using FT-IR and DSC. Both of these sophisticated testing methods were covered in my first article. What we want to do is to identify differences in the output data between adulterated honey and raw honey. We can develop functions that describe the relationships of the different types of honey.
Second, we need to develop a new testing method using cheap thermocouples, pressure sensors, and photoresistors that collect data using an Arduino micro-controller. If you are interested in robotics, I highly recommend checking Arduino out.
As we vary the temperature, the pressure sensors will be able to pick up changes in each type of honey. The goal is to see patterns in the pressure data that are similar to the data collected in the DSC tests. If the trends match up well then the cheap sensors might be a viable and cheap option for testing whether honey is pure or not. We also hope to see patterns between the FT-IR data and photoresistor data using UV radiation and other light sources.
What’s been done
Currently, we’ve collected all of the data for the FT-IR, have collected some preliminary data from the DSC, and have set up an Arduino that plots voltage data against time for a thermocouple.
The FT-IR data for each honey is very similar, but subtle differences are visibly noticeable. In the coming weeks, we are going to apply a statistical analysis to the data and see if there are a pattern of differences between the raw honey, and the adulterated honey.
I’m planning on posting the results of the tests once the project is complete.
It’s amazing to have your own idea turned into a tangible project. Nothing teaches you more than having to deal with the problems that arise when you are pursuing a personal goal. I think it would surprise many what a teenager can do with $50, their own idea, and a passion and responsibility to succeed.