Detecting Food Adulteration Through Fluorescence Spectroscopy

Meat is a globally popular food commodity, providing essential nutrients like proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals for human growth and development.

Detecting Food Adulteration Through Fluorescence Spectroscopy

Meat is a globally popular food commodity, providing essential nutrients like proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals for human growth and development. Detecting adulteration and determining product authenticity is a major concern for consumers and food authorities.

Food adulteration is the intentional debasing of food quality by adding or replacing undeclared components or removing valuable ones to lower costs or increase bulk. This is a major concern for consumers due to its economic, health, religious, and legal implications.

Meat adulteration in comminuted and highly processed meat products is a common practice in retail markets. The 2012 horse meat scandal, in which horse meat was found in beef products in Europe, raised public concern about meat authentication.

Food authentication is crucial for controlling food quality and safety and protecting consumers’ rights, especially under religiously strict dietary laws. Food fraud has become a significant issue in recent years, with scandals like milk adulterated with melamine, horsemeat, and fipronil in eggs affecting authorities, industries, and consumers worldwide.

Mitigation, particularly through frequent inspections, is crucial. If the following conditions are met, meat or poultry is deemed adulterated. It includes a dangerous or harmful chemical that, when ingested, usually results in harm. The meat or poultry is unsuitable for consumption due to the presence of an unauthorised pesticide, food additive, or colour additive. It is unsuitable for food.


  1. To determine adulteration in meat (additives, fillers, preservatives, haram meat, etc.)
  2. To verify the authenticity and origin of meat.

Impact on our health:

Foodborne Illness:

Adulterated meat can cause foodborne illnesses due to harmful bacteria, parasites, or pathogens, leading to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and fever.

Reduced nutritional value:

Adulteration involves diluting high-quality meat with lower-quality substances, reducing its nutritional content, and potentially leading to inadequate protein intake and other essential nutrients.

Allergic Reaction:

Meat adulteration practices can cause allergic reactions in individuals with specific food allergies, potentially posing a life-threatening risk.

Health Hazards from Contaminants:

Adulterated meat, containing harmful contaminants like chemicals, antibiotics, hormones, or pesticides, can pose health risks and potentially lead to chronic health issues over time.


Mislabeling of meat products can deceive consumers about the type, quality, or origin, affecting their food choices, dietary preferences, and informed food consumption decisions.

Ethical Concerns:

Halal meat consumption is a fundamental aspect of Islamic faith, but some suppliers’ greed for profit has led to the mislabeling of non-halal products, causing distress to practicing Muslims.

Long-term health risks:

Consuming adulterated meat can lead to long-term health risks like obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and chronic conditions due to lower-quality meat and harmful additives.

Our Research:

Meat adulteration has become a common practice throughout the world, especially in Pakistan. So, there are necessities to develop fast and stable techniques for the determination of meat adulteration because existing techniques require sample preparation, are time-consuming, and are more laborious.

A lab experiment was conducted at the National Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFSAT), University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, to establish some rapid, non-destructive, and innovative techniques for the detection of meat adulteration in different animal species, to explicate the potential of fluorescence spectroscopy as a rapid tool for detecting meat authenticity, and also to evaluate the competence of fluorescence spectroscopy for differentiating various types of meat.

Further, spectra for each treatment were collected with the help of fluorescence spectroscopy (FS) to detect the adulteration of individual meat species and also combinations of meat. Compositional and quality parameters showed highly significant results.


Composition Analysis:

  • Crude Fat:

The crude fat contents of all meat samples were evaluated by Soxhlet’s apparatus. For the determination of crude fat contents, first weigh the meat samples at 3 to 4 grams. All samples were kept in a hot air oven at 105°C for 5–6 hours. Then oven-dried samples were wrapped in filter paper and pinned up. In a round-bottom flask, I took petroleum ether for the extraction of the sample’s fat.

Heated the flask at 60 to 80°C for 4 hours by controlling the condensation rate of 5 to 6 drops per second. After heating, separate the flask.

After recovering, the solvent flask dried in a hot air oven at 105°C for a short time. Dried samples were cooled in the desiccator and weighed. At the end, note the difference between initial and final that denotes the crude fat contents.

  • Crude Protein:

The crude protein of the meat sample was determined by the Kjeldhal apparatus. First, I took 2g of meat samples. Then this sample is put in a digestion flask. After this, I cooled the flask, poured the digested sample into a beaker, and made a volume of 250 mL by adding distilled water.

Than titrated the distillate against 0.1 N H2SO4 or HCI till the end point light pink came. Note the volume of acid that was used for titration and measure % nitrogen.

Crude Protein = %Nitrogen x 6.25

Quality Parameters for Meat:

  1. pH
  2. Water Holding Capacity
  3. Colour Analysis
  4. Texture Analysis

Fluorescence spectroscopy for determining meat quality and authenticity:

Fluorescence spectroscopy has the potential to detect the changes that occur in food products and their quality during the processing of the products and their storage. It also has the capability to detect the properties of products, such as compositional, functional, and nutritional, without the use of chemicals. So, fluorescence spectroscopy has been used to evaluate the quality of animal-based products.

Fluorescent spectra were collected with the help of a fluoromax-4 spectrofluorometer that is present in the Meat Science and Technology Laboratory of the National Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFSAT), University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.


In this study, the fluorescence spectrum showed the difference among tryptophan, NADH, vitamin, and other quality and compositional parameters of different meat species.

All the results of the compositional analysis clearly showed the difference between halal and haram meat species. All treatments of mixed meat of various species also exhibited significant differences among each other.