Our latest Food Security research, published in Scientific Reports, is receiving considerable attention in the press and on social media. This work involves the through-container detection of fake spirits with a handheld SORS device, with collaborators from Cobalt Light Systems and the Scotch Whisky Research Institute (SWRI).
We demonstrated that we could detect multiple chemical markers of counterfeit alcohol in extremely low concentrations without having to open bottles. This is the first time handheld SORS has ever been used for such an application, its primary applications to date being explosives and hazmat screening/detection and pharmaceutical analysis. The spirit drinks industry is vitally important in economic terms and is the EU’s biggest agri-food exporter, with EU governments’ revenues of at least €23 billion in excise duties and VAT, and approximately 1 million jobs linked to the production, distribution and sale of spirit drinks. In addition, illicit spirit drinks can have very serious health impacts, especially when so-called ‘denatured’ (i.e. industrial) alcohols such as methanol, amongst several others. are used by counterfeiters.