Using Anton Paar’s Cora 5001 Raman spectrometer to detect methanol contamination in alcoholic beverages

As methanol, a common by-product of fermentation processes and adulterant of alcoholic beverages, poses a risk to consumers health its detection in even low concentration is important. This is easily possible using the Cora 5001 Raman spectrometers

Anton Paar’s Cora 5001 Raman spectrometer can be used to detect contaminants in alcoholic beverages. One of the most prominent contaminants of such beverages is methanol (MeOH) which has toxic effects and thus poses a risk to consumers health. After ingestion methanol is metabolized to highly toxic compounds such as formaldehyde and formic acid which can cause permanent blindness as it harms optical nerves and can even be fatal after ingestion of about 30 mL. Every year there are several cases of death or blindness due to methanol poisoning all over the world ranging from 20-800 victims per outbreak with approx. 30 % fatality rate. In some spirits methanol cannot be totally avoided as it is a by-product during fermentation processes and cannot be fully removed by distillation procedures due to its volatility. Such spirits are usually based on potato or fruit origin as those are rich of pectin of which methanol is recovered during fermentation.  However, methanol is also known to be intentionally added as it is similar to ethanol in its properties and taste and thus used as adulterant. To prevent health risks there are several standards, regulations and guidelines established. However, regulations vary depending on the country and on the type of spirit. Thus, the maximum levels of methanol that are allowed vary in a range of about 0.05 -15 g/L related to 100% ethanol.

Cora 5001 offers a fast and non-destructive measurement of spirits which is possible through glass. This enables uncovering of methanol contamination without the need for transportation to analytical facilities and without opening the bottle. If sampling is preferred, e.g. for additional characterization methods or archiving, Cora 5001 Direct offers additional advantages. It is a laser class 1 instrument requiring no laser safety precautions and the implemented autofocus routine facilitates measurements even for untrained personal.

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