Fast, cheap ‘dipstick’ test to identify pesticides in foods

Last Updated: Nov 05, 2009, 00:00 AM IST

Washington: A team of Canadian scientists has developed a fast, inexpensive ‘dipstick’ test to identify small amounts of pesticides that may exist in foods and beverages.

John Brennan and colleagues said that their paper-strip test is more practical than conventional pesticide tests, producing results in minutes rather than hours by means of an easy-to-read colour-change.

They noted in the new study that conventional tests for detecting pesticides tend to use expensive and complex equipment and in some cases can take several hours to produce results.

They cite a growing need for cheaper, more convenient, and more eco-friendly tests for pesticides, particularly in the food industry.

Brennan and colleagues describe the development of a new paper-based test strip that changes colour shades depending on the amount of pesticide present.

In laboratory studies using food and beverage samples intentionally contaminated with common pesticides, the test strips accurately identified minute amounts of pesticides.

The test strips, which produced results in less than 5 minutes, could be particularly useful in developing countries or remote areas that may lack access to expensive testing equipment and electricity, they note.

The study appears in the November 1 issue of ACS` Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.