London Researchers Develop a Hand-held Device to Detect Counterfeit Alcohol


Recently, in London, the Scientists have developed the world’s first hand-held device which can detect counterfeit vodka and whisky while they are still inside the bottle.

The devices are available commercially and are usually used for security purposes or for the screening of hazardous substances. The new version is developed at University of Manchester, UK, and it is the first such hand-held tool used for a food or beverage product.

The device makes use of Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy (SORS) that conduct chemical analysis of objects and contents behind the concealing surfaces like glass bottles. In this method, lasers are directed through the glass which carries out the isolation of chemical-related information that is inside the spirit.

According to Roy Goodacre, a professor at the University of Manchester and the lead researcher of this device, “Food and beverage counterfeiting comes with the real potential for serious health, economic and social consequences, especially when it comes to alcohol products. An essential part of ensuring consumer confidence is to provide assurance that these products are authentic and have not been either contaminated or counterfeited.”

It has been seen that fake alcohol has serious health implications on its drinkers. The counterfeit alcohol does not follow any stringent safety procedures and contains notorious levels of methanol – a chemical that can cause dizziness, sickness and even blindness.

David Ellis, co-author of the study published in the journal Nature added, “Sales of illicit spirit drinks can also have serious health impacts when industrial alcohols or methanol are used by counterfeiters and unknowingly consumed and multiple deaths are reported worldwide each year. We have developed this approach, not only to ensure brand authenticity but also to safeguard public health.”

The gadget was tested on around 150 well-known brands of scotch whisky, gin, rum and vodka in closed glass containers which included 40 counterfeit products.

Using this device, the team could detect different levels of alcohol also. The test was also performed on several bottles of spirit drinks bought from local shops.