Science helps to foil trade in imitation milk powder

16 november 2012

New Zealand scientists have come up with a way to help identify fake milk powder being sold as a New Zealand product in overseas markets. New Zealand exports about $2 billion worth of milk products to China each year, and a recent rise in imitation, and sometimes dangerous, dairy products in China has increased the importance of protecting the New Zealand brand.
Scientists at GNS Science at Gracefield and Otago University have completed preliminary work showing they can read milk powder’s geographical identification.
The scientists make use of the fact that New Zealand’s rainfall has a distinctive natural isotope signature that passes through pasture and into milk products. The two kinds of hydrogen atoms – or isotopes – naturally present in rainfall capture whether the rain fell in a warm or cold climate (GNS Science Media Release, 13 November 2012)