Alcoholic drinks contaminated, either accidentally or deliberately, by methanol claimed at least 789 lives in 2019, mostly in Asia. Here, a palm-sized, multi-use sensor–smartphone system is presented for on-demand headspace analysis of beverages. The analyser quantified methanol concentrations in 89 pure and methanol-contaminated alcoholic drinks from 6 continents and performed accurately for 107 consecutive days. This device could help consumers, distillers, law-enforcing authorities and healthcare workers to easily screen methanol in alcoholic beverages.
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The data that support the findings of this study are available as source data or can be requested from the corresponding author.
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We thank the S. Fassbind AG in Oberarth, Switzerland for providing samples of distilled cherry spirit and M. Huber (ETH Zurich) for helping with the gas chromatography analysis of pure beverages. This study was primarily funded by the Particle Technology Laboratory (ETH) and in part by the Swiss National Science Foundation (projects 159763 and 175754; R’Equip grants 170729 and 183298).
A patent application has been submitted that covers the concept of selective methanol detection. Applicant: ETH Zürich; inventors: S.A., J.v.d.B., S.E.P. and A.T.G.; application number: DE2019011109582800; status: pending.
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Abegg, S., Magro, L., van den Broek, J. et al. A pocket-sized device enables detection of methanol adulteration in alcoholic beverages. Nat Food 1, 351–354 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-020-0095-9