Knowing the quality, specifically fat content, of milk is crucial in developing countries. The quality of milk, is a key factor in determining pricing and deterring false claims of high quality. Current methods of measuring milk fat content require large, expensive spectroscopic equipment that cannot be readily accessed in rural areas. With the technologythat usesa fluorescent sensor to quantify the amount of fat in milk precisely in a matter of seconds (“Milk Yellow”), aportable and cost-effective device has beendevelopedto analyse milk fat content accurately and instantaneously.When illuminated by UV light, Milk Yellow emits fluorescence proportional to the milk fat content and the fluorescence change can even be detected by the naked eye. As a result, Milk Yellow is perfectly suited for rural areas and serves the needs of both the seller and buyer.
The team that developedthe technology has created diversity-oriented fluorescence libraries, which have led to the identification of a number of useful fluorescent sensors. By screening the libraries on milk samples, the team successfully identified the first fluorescent sensor for milk fat and named it Milk Yellow. Milk Yellow exhibits magnificent yet selective fluorescence when exposed to fat molecules, even in a complicated milk matrix. The fluorescence response is not affected by the amount of proteins or carbohydrates in the samples. This provides a convenient and rapid tool to measure fat content, simply by mixing the dye with diluted milk samples. The dye has been demonstrated todifferentiate whole milk, low fat milk and skim milk, no matter which brand of milk is tested. Milk Yellow was testedin the laboratory using amicropipette, which is broadly available in laboratoriesbut not amenable for use in the field -specifically in resource-limited areas.Thus,the team has further created an affordable portable device that incorporates this technology into alow cost liquid sampling and optics system.
This device will revolutionize the milk fat detection industry. The end-point consumer-friendly product for milk testing is expected to be readily adopted in developing markets like India. India is the largest milk producing nation of the world. The total size of the Indian market is $6 billion annually (organized sector), the unorganized sector being much larger.