IIT Researchers Develop Algorithm To Detect Milk Adulteration

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An IIT research team headed by Professor Shiv Govind Singh has developed algorithms that can be incorporated on to smartphones to detect colour changes in milk

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad, have developed a smartphone-based system that is capable of detecting adulteration in milk. The IIT researchers have also developed algorithms that can be incorporated on to a smartphone to accurately detect colour changes in milk.

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The detector system works by measuring acidity levels in milk. It uses an indicator paper that changes colour in accordance with acidity. The research team started by working on development of a sensor-chip based method for measuring pH level.

IIT Professor Shiv Govind Singh, heading the research team, told PTI, “While techniques such as chromatography and spectroscopy can be used to detect adulteration, such techniques generally require expensive set up and are not amenable to miniaturisation into low-cost easy-to-use devices. Hence, they do not appeal to the vast majority of milk consumers in the developing world. We need to develop simple devices that the consumer can use to detect milk contamination. It should be possible to make milk adulteration detection fail safe by monitoring all of these parameters at the same time, without the need for expensive equipment.”

Prototype smartphone-based algorithm

The prototype smartphone based algorithm works by looking at photos of the paper dipped in milk. The algorithm, depending upon the color change, transfers the data into pH range.

“We have used three machine-learning algorithms and compared their detection efficiencies in classifying the colour of the indicator strips. On testing with milk spiked with various combinations of contaminants, we found near-perfect classification with accuracy of 99.71 per cent,” Mr Singh added.

Future

Mr Singh pointing towards future research in the field said, “In the long run, we hope to develop sensors for other physical properties such as conductivity and refractive index and integrate it with the pH detection unit to obtain comprehensive milk quality check systems that can be easily deployed by the consumer using mobile phones and other hand-held devices.”

Researchers made use of a process called “electro-spinning” to produce paper-like material made of nano-sized nylon fiber. This paper was loaded with a combination of three dyes.

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