How Real is Your Milk?

The African dairy market is on the rise. Southern Africa plays a crucial role in this growth, with milk consumption gradually increasing in the region. Milk is a staple food in this region and is consumed in various forms, including fresh, powdered, and condensed milk.

The growth of the African dairy market is driven by factors such as changing consumer preferences, increased demand, and local special circumstances. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) projects that the African dairy sector will continue to grow by 30% which is drawing attention from investors.

Milk: The essentials

Milk is a natural source of the fats, minerals, nutrients, micronutrients, and vitamins required for a balanced diet. It is also essential for the growth and development of babies and infants into early childhood. Either breast or infant formula milk is given to babies for at least the first six months of their lives, and between the ages of one and two years, whole milk and dairy products are recommended to ensure that babies receive essential vitamins they may not otherwise obtain from lower fat alternatives.


Preserving nutritional values, safety, and authenticity

Milk and its related products are tested for three main reasons within the food and beverage industry:

  1. Nutrition — ensuring the required nutritional value of milk is present in its products.
  2. Safety — confirming the absence of suspected harmful chemicals in milk.
  3. Authenticity — determining if milk products are adulterated and therefore compromised in any way.

By testing these three factors, consumers are more protected from mislabelled, fraudulent, and potentially contaminated milk products that may have reached the marketplace unregulated.

The importance of testing nutritional values of milk and infant formulas

Testing the nutritional values of milk is important so that consumers can make informed decisions about their purchases. Above all, manufacturers of specified products — such as infant formulas for example — must adhere to uncompromising nutritional values determined by regional, national, or international regulatory bodies.

To support consumers making these decisions about their milk and/or infant formula purchases, it is crucial for manufacturers to label their products accurately. In doing so, food testing labs may carry out experiments using HPLC, LC/MS/MS, and GC systems to accurately measure milk content for sugars, fats, vitamins, and amino acids.

Measuring the levels of vitamins as well as beneficial (and some essential) elements such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, selenium, phosphorus, manganese, and zinc, provides insightful nutritional information. It’s also important to monitor for potentially toxic elements such as arsenic, cadmium, tin, mercury, and lead in animal-derived milk as contamination could originate from animal feed, fertiliser, soil, or processing equipment.

In one study, the Agilent 5800 VDV ICP-OES system used with an SPS 4 autosampler determined calcium, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, sodium, phosphorous, and zinc in milk powder and infant formula samples according to the ISO 15151 method. Results showed that the recoveries for all analytes with certified or reference values were within ±10% of the expected value, thus confirming its nutritional labelling.

Other experimental examples include the rapid analysis of major and trace elements in milk and milk products using an Agilent 7900 ICP-MS with optional Ultra High Matrix Introduction UHMI technology and Integrated Sample Introduction System (ISIS 3).

Agilent 5800 ICP-OES
Agilent 7900 ICP-MS


Examining the safety of milk

Foods of animal origins such as dairy milk go through additional scrutiny to detect levels of veterinary drugs. Without a sophisticated approach for testing dairy milk samples, analytical challenges are likely to arise due to the complexity of the matrix and the number of pharmaceutical analogues needed to monitor. Furthermore, the different legislative requirements of various countries require sample referencing that meets a wide variety of regulatory conditions.

Watch our webinar on Food Testing Using Atomic Spectroscopy>

Another factor to consider when examining the safety of milk is the responsible use of pesticides within established limits in animal feeds from which dairy milk is extracted, and in other plant-based ingredients which may be added to other milk products. To validate this, LC/MS, GC/MS, and Q-TOF workflows offer food testing labs the solutions needed to accurately measure pesticide levels in milk samples.

Furthermore, food safety studies are routinely conducted to detect, quantify, and validate trace-level analysis of undesirable byproducts such as chlorate and perchlorate in store-bought milk and infant formulas. In one particular study, the Agilent 1290 Infinity II LC and Ultivo triple quadrupole LC/MS (LC/TQ) were utilised. Data from this experiment highlights accurate quantitation at one-tenth the level of the maximum residue level (MRL), which is 10 μg/kg in milk and infant formula as defined by the European Commission.

Download our poster on Quantification of Mycotoxins in Milk Samples >

Agilent 1290 Infinity II Online SPE System
Agilent Ultivo LC/MSMS

Exposing fraudulent milk to preserve its authenticity

Globally, milk continues to be one of the most adulterated food and beverage products on the market. For example, in 2008 the analysis of dairy milk powder from Minhe Hui County, China, revealed the contamination of melamine—an organic compound used to manufacture fertilisers and concrete—to be 500 times the maximum limit of melamine found in test samples at that time.

More recently in Southern Asia, the Punjab Food Authority seized almost 80,000 litres of milk to combat the adulteration of dairy products in the local metropolis. The milk was flagged due to the addition of urea and water.

In addition to deceiving consumers and manufacturing producers, food fraudsters can seriously affect the health outcomes of individuals. Fortunately, innovations in analytical instrumentation and testing methods are exposing these unlawful acts to reinstall consumer confidence by validating the authenticity and safety of products such as milk and infant formulas.

For example, the Agilent 8890 GC and the Agilent 5977B GC/MS single quadrupole mass spectrometer have been used to detect and quantify β-sitosterol in ghee (milk fat) samples to check for vegetable oil adulteration. The presence of β-sitosterol is associated with low quality and is a potential indicator of adulterated milk. Results showed that 2.24 ppm β-sitosterol was found in the ghee sample on which the study was performed.

Agilent 8890 GC

Both targeted and non-targeted approaches can be used to identify known compounds in milk and other food authenticity testing. The latter is beneficial if adulterants in milk are new or have not been previously identified by food testing labs. Non-targeted methods using quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometers, for example, create a chemical fingerprint of authentic foods, making it more difficult for food fraudsters to cheat the global food supply chain.


Forming partnerships to eliminate milk fraud

As milk sale projections are estimated to increase over the next few years, and with wider varieties of product choices in stores and online, it is important that companies like Chemetrix continue to work in partnership with its food testing customers to eliminate the threat of milk fraud while preserving its nutritional values, safety, and authenticity. Above all, manufacturers of milk products must adhere to multiple food regulations relating to quality and safety which are constantly being updated. Chemetrix is here to support our customers so that consumers of their products have confidence in their purchase choice for the nourishment of themselves and their families.

Parts of this article have been adapted from the original published by Agilent.

Bioburden Testing and Rapid Microbiology Methods

In the realm of pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology industries, ensuring product safety and compliance with stringent regulatory standards is paramount. One of the critical quality control processes that aid in achieving this goal is bioburden testing. This essential procedure involves the quantification and identification of microbial load on products, packaging, and raw materials. At Chemetrix, we understand the significance of this process and the need for reliable and efficient instruments. This is where Veolia’s advanced solutions come into play, providing robust support for bioburden testing to enhance quality control measures.



What is bioburden testing?

Bioburden testing is the measurement of the microbial load, or the number of viable microorganisms present on a product, surface, or in a solution. This test is crucial in various stages of manufacturing, particularly for sterile products, as it ensures that the bioburden levels are within acceptable limits before sterilisation. By identifying and quantifying the microorganisms present, manufacturers can assess the effectiveness of their cleaning, disinfection, and sterilisation processes.

The results from bioburden tests are used to validate and monitor the manufacturing processes, ensuring that they consistently produce products that meet safety and efficacy standards. Regular bioburden testing helps in detecting contamination issues early, preventing potential product recalls and safeguarding consumer health.

The necessity of bioburden testing in quality control

Bioburden testing is not just a regulatory requirement but a critical aspect of quality control that offers numerous benefits:

  1. Ensures sterility: For products that must be sterile, such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and surgical instruments, bioburden testing ensures that the sterilisation processes are effective. Any surviving microorganisms can pose serious health risks to patients.
  2. Regulatory compliance: Regulatory bodies like the FDA and EMA mandate bioburden testing as part of the manufacturing process. Non-compliance can lead to severe penalties, product recalls, and damage to a company’s reputation.
  3. Process validation and control: Bioburden testing helps in validating and controlling manufacturing processes. By understanding the microbial load at various stages, manufacturers can fine-tune their processes to minimise contamination risks.
  4. Risk management: Identifying the types and quantities of microorganisms present allows for better risk management. This proactive approach helps in implementing corrective actions before any significant issues arise.

Watch our webinar on Testing Quality Attributes of Water for Pharmaceutical Production >


How Veolia’s instruments facilitate bioburden testing

Veolia offers a range of advanced instruments designed to streamline and enhance the bioburden testing process. Here’s how their technology can assist:

  1. Automated sampling and analysis: Veolia’s automated systems ensure precise and consistent sampling and analysis, reducing human error and improving reliability. These systems can handle high sample volumes efficiently, making them ideal for large-scale operations.
  2. Real-time monitoring: Veolia’s instruments offer real-time monitoring of microbial loads, providing immediate feedback on contamination levels. This capability allows for quicker decision-making and timely corrective actions, ensuring continuous control over the production process.
  3. Advanced filtration systems: Effective filtration is crucial in bioburden testing, and Veolia’s advanced filtration systems ensure that even the smallest microorganisms are captured and analysed accurately. These systems are designed to handle various sample types, from liquids to solids, ensuring versatility in testing.
  4. Comprehensive data management: Data integrity and traceability are critical in bioburden testing. Veolia’s instruments come with integrated data management solutions that ensure all test results are accurately recorded, stored, and easily accessible for audits and regulatory inspections.



Addressing bioburden effectively has yielded remarkable benefits across various industries, with numerous success stories underscoring its importance. Veolia’s cutting-edge bioburden testing instruments have played a crucial role in these successes. Their precision and efficiency in detecting and quantifying microbial presence have empowered companies to maintain stringent quality standards, ensuring the safety and efficacy of their products.

Download our whitepaper on Rapid Microbial Method Verification Testing for USP >


By investing in robust bioburden testing solutions, businesses can visualise a future where product recalls and contamination issues are drastically minimised. This proactive approach not only safeguards public health but also reinforces consumer trust, driving long-term growth and success. Embracing bioburden testing is not just a compliance measure; it is a strategic move towards achieving excellence in quality control and securing a competitive edge in the market.

Veolia’s state-of-the-art instruments offer unparalleled precision and reliability, empowering businesses to tackle microbial contamination with confidence. To learn more about how Veolia’s innovative solutions can enhance your bioburden testing processes and drive success, connect with Chemetrix today. Our team is ready to provide expert guidance and support, helping you achieve excellence in quality control and secure a competitive edge in the market.


Combating PFAS ‘The Forever Chemical’ Contamination

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a group of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s due to their useful properties. There are thousands of different PFAS, some of which have been more widely used and studied than others.

Nothing about PFAS – from how they are made, to their unique characteristics, to how they need to be analysed – is easy. These chemicals were developed to simplify our lives, but now decades later, they have become a serious problem due to their elusive and persistent nature, hence the nickname ‘The Forever Chemical.’ What is clear is that PFAS contamination is an environmental and growing health issue, but what is less clear is how to address and manage this issue.


The importance of PFAS

PFAS are important because they have been widely used in industry and manufacturing due to their unique chemical properties; properties that make them heat-resistant, able to repel water, and close to indestructible. PFAS compounds have been used in many applications such as non-stick cookware, stain-repellent clothes, food contact materials, detergents, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams.

The unfortunate consequence of PFAS

For many years, PFAS were thought to be inert and nontoxic and were extensively used with little thought for environmental disposal or ecological impact. It was not until early this century that the extent of PFAS global contamination was first realised. There are over 4000 PFAS compounds thought to have been manufactured and are now potentially in the environment globally.

The research on PFAS compounds has identified them as being persistent and bio accumulative, and their widespread use has led to them being almost ubiquitous in the environment. Because PFAS do not break down, they enter the environment through production or waste streams. In South Africa, the presence of PFAS has been detected in some water sources, including rivers and dams.

“PFAS are a new style of pollutants that don’t follow the ‘rules’ of traditional organic pollutants. This is why regulators and scientists, unfortunately, failed to predict how these chemicals would move through the environment, and why we now have a serious problem of such widespread PFAS contamination of drinking water, agricultural land, and the domestic environment.”

– Bradley Clarke, senior lecturer in Analytical Chemistry and Environmental Science, at the University of Melbourne in Australia, and an Agilent collaborator.


PFAS exposure and human health

People can be exposed to low levels of PFAS compounds through consumer products that contain PFAS, for example, carpets, leather and apparel, textiles, paper and packaging materials, and non-stick cookware. Drinking water can also be a source of exposure in communities where these chemicals have contaminated water supplies, such as an industrial facility where PFAS were produced, or used to manufacture other products, or an oil refinery, airfield or other location at which PFAS may have been used for firefighting.

Download our eBook Guide to Targeted Quantification and Screening of PFAS Compounds in Environmental Matrices >

Helping scientists learn more about PFAS

PFAS contamination is a complex issue. While knowledge about PFAS compounds and their potential health effects has grown, many questions remain unanswered. It’s also a global issue and collaborative research allows countries to share knowledge, best practices, and effective solutions.

Watch our webinar on Strategies to Optimise Performance of PFAS Analysis >

Committed to helping scientists and regulators around the world solve these water issues to provide safe and sustainable water sources for everyone, Agilent has recently developed a protocol for the analysis of PFASs in drinking water using the Agilent Ultivo triple quadrupole LC/MS. Working with leading researchers around the world, Agilent has also developed a method for extracting PFASs in drinking water using Agilent Offline Solid Phase Extraction and an Agilent LC/MS/MS system with a PFAS-free 1290 Infinity II LC System.

Agilent Ultivo LC/MSMS


Agilent 1290 Infinity II 2D-LC System


Providing scientists with measurement and identification technology solutions to accurately analyze PFAS chemicals in water is a critical first step for estimating human exposure and potential risk. Robust analytical techniques that can provide unbiased quantitative and qualitative data on these PFAS pollutants at trace levels are necessary for further understanding their environmental fate, ecological impacts, and impacts on public health. These analytical techniques and the fundamental data they generate will allow scientists and regulators to make informed assessments of PFAS use in modern society.

Watch our webinar on The PFAS Lab of the Future >

Although PFAS research on the African continent is not extensive as yet, the growing awareness and need to understand these chemicals for policy and regulation is necessary. As an analytical instrument supplier and solutions provider for laboratories, Chemetrix is committed to helping combat the “Forever Chemical” challenge.

Parts of this article have been adapted from the original published by Agilent.

Revolutionising Nutrition: The Rise of Alternative Proteins

The food industry is experiencing a significant shift as alternative proteins rise in popularity. These non-animal-based foods, ingredients, and beverages, including plant-based, cell culture-based, and fermentation-based proteins, offer a new frontier in nutrition and sustainability. Designed to mimic the taste, texture, and nutritional profiles of traditional animal proteins, alternative proteins have come a long way from the mock meats of the past. The market for these products is booming, projected to surpass $290 billion by 2030, driven by their nutritional benefits, environmental sustainability, and potential to enhance food security.

Today, the industry for alternative proteins has technology on their side and are continuously turning to data and analysis to find solutions that will make these increasingly popular food items more appealing to a wider consumer base. And while meat or burgers grown in a lab does grab headlines, it’s a far cry from the products found in grocery stores that are more practical and cost-effective. Making better alternative protein products isn’t as easy as throwing lentils into the mix and scientific methods are helping to expand the alternative protein offerings in the mainstream market.


Passing taste tests with lab innovation

As the market for alternative proteins expands, rigorous testing becomes crucial. Ensuring the safety, composition, health benefits, and sustainability of these products is essential for maintaining consumer trust and industry growth. For many consumers, concerns about contaminants like veterinary drugs and hormones in meat products make alternative proteins a preferred choice, perceived as a healthier option. However, with rising demand and sometimes limited supply, food fraud becomes a significant challenge. Fraudsters may substitute expensive plant-based proteins with allergens like wheat or soya, or engage in other deceptive practices such as mislabelling and counterfeiting.

To address these challenges and meet consumer expectations in terms of the sensory experience, food developers are turning to advanced analytical tools. These tools are essential for overcoming the biggest hurdles to mainstream acceptance of alternative proteins: taste and texture.

By using sensitive instruments to analyse and optimise the flavour, aroma, and nutritional profiles of these products, food scientists can ensure they meet the high standards expected by consumers.

The process begins with sample preparation to remove unwanted interferences such as fats, chlorophyll, and pigments, allowing researchers to accurately compare the alternative proteins to their animal-based counterparts. Tools like liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry systems are then used to analyse food on a molecular level. Liquid chromatography provides detailed characterisation of stable components such as amino acids, vitamins, and lipids, while gas chromatography examines volatile compounds to engineer desired smells and tastes.

In addition to instrumental analysis, human taste testers play a crucial role in evaluating the palatability of food. Advanced instrumentation can complement this by objectively identifying the five basic tastes – sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami – in alternative proteins. This combined approach ensures a comprehensive assessment of flavour and texture, critical for consumer acceptance.

Ensuring a quality composition of alternative proteins

Agilent’s workflow solutions exemplify the robust testing needed in the alternative protein industry. These solutions validate the authenticity, nutritional information, and safety of alternative protein products. For instance, Agilent’s LC-Q-TOF-MS/MS technology has been used to investigate non-meat proteins and peptide markers in ready-to-cook beef burgers, while GC/MS-based metabolomics approaches differentiate the chemical profiles of plant-based meat alternatives from grass-fed ground beef.

Watch our webinar on Metabolomics Profiling of Meat and Plant-based Meats >


Agilent 5977 GC/MSD


Elemental analysis is another critical aspect of ensuring the quality of alternative proteins. During the production process, there is potential for elemental metals to contaminate the final products. Agilent’s atomic spectroscopy instruments, such as the 7850 inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), enable the identification and quantification of these metal elements, ensuring product safety.

Agilent 7850 ICP-MS


The future of food relies heavily on advancing research into alternative proteins. Technologies such as ICP-MS, triple quadrupole (QQQ) liquid or gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC/GC/MS), and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) are recommended for robust testing purposes. These tools not only support the development of safer, healthier, and more sustainable food options but also influence the global food supply chain.


Chemetrix has the expert knowledge and innovative solutions required by the food industry to advance the safety and innovative product development of alternative proteins. As the food and agriculture industry faces ever-increasing demands for more sensitive, productive analytical solutions, Chemetrix leads the industry with products and services to help you deliver what your customers demand. Our instruments, systems, and supplies are used throughout the food production chain, including incoming inspection, new product development, quality control and assurance, and packaging. Contact us to find out how our team can assist you.


Best of Imaging Applications

Cell culture lies at the heart of many biological studies, serving as a foundational technique for a myriad of applications, from basic research to drug discovery. Register for this exciting webinar that will explore the newest features and instrument capabilities supporting kinetic live-cell imaging, from real-time analysis of rapid GPCR signalling pathways to long-term treatment-induced effects on cell proliferation and viability.



Joe Clayton, PhD
Scientific Program Manager,
Agilent Cell Analysis


Register now >