Sweet as! Compact, cost-effective device for detecting tainted honey

Researchers from China have hit the sweet spot with a new sensor that can test whether honey products have been watered down.

Honey is a natural and raw food product produced by bees.

But the product is commonly tainted, sometimes watered down, or mixed with cheaper and lower grade honeys, sugars, corn syrups and other substances. 

A study published in Scientific Reports claimed honey is the world’s third most adulterated food. In 2018, the ABC reported as many as one in five Australian honey samples tested were found to be fake.

Unfortunately standard methods for detecting adulterated honey are often expensive and complicated. 

The researchers publishing in Review of Scientific Instruments have developed a simple, compact and cost-effective tool for detecting when water has been added to honey.

The tool, a microstrip line planar resonator sensor, is made from an insulating material topped with three thin copper strips. It measures resonance frequency, which decreases when water is added to natural honey.

Rsi pr fig4
Diagram of the sensor / Credit: Qi Jin, Zhaozong Meng, Zhijun Chen, and Zhen Li

“When we add water to honey, it changes how the electromagnetic field behaves around it,” said author Zhen Li. “When placed in the sensor, adulterated honey shifts the sensor’s resonance frequency. By measuring this shift, we can detect water adulteration in honey.”

The device could provide a cost-effective way for the food industry to check whether the sticky stuff is pure or adulterated.

Please login to favourite this article.