Academic Minute Podcast

Gerard Dumancas, University of Scranton – Inexpensive Method to Detect Honey Authenticity

The honey imported into the U.S. might not be what we think it is.

Gerard Dumancas, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton, determines how to tell if it’s pure, or altered.

Gerard G. Dumancas is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Director of the NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, and a Community-Based Learning Faculty Fellow at the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pa. He received his BS in Chemistry from the University of the Philippines in 2005 and his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry (Chemometrics) from Oklahoma State University in 2012. He completed his postdoctoral training at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in the area of statistical genetics and bioinformatics. His research has been recognized by the American Oil Chemists’ Society, the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening, the NSF Noyce Scholarship Program, the NSF S-STEM Program, and the LSU LIFT2. He was previously named as an NSF Program to Empower Partnerships with Industry Fellow as well as a Visiting Scientist of the Department of Energy’s Joint Bioenergy Institute and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Inexpensive Method to Detect Honey Authenticity

Raw honey is consumed as a sweetener and for therapeutic purposes. Like many foods today, honey often is adulterated with corn, cane, beet and rice syrups often to maximize profits, and these have been known to damage the liver, heart and brain.

Domestic honey is usually pure, but imported honey often arrives in doctored form. Food fraud continues to grow globally, with honey accounting for 7 percent of fraud cases.

My research focuses on development of an inexpensive spectrometer device and a smartphone app that can identify the presence of non-honey ingredients in minutes.

We have also done a comprehensive study of the different types of honey adulteration, as well as detection methods, most of which are expensive and time-consuming. We have identified the impact of common sugar adulterants, and found that these substances increase consumer blood sugar, diabetes, weight gain and obesity and blood pressure.

Our smartphone application system quickly identifies adulterants in honey using an infrared spectrometer that is simple to use and also determines the floral and geographic origin of the honey. This will greatly enhance honey importers’ ability to determine authenticity and to price the honey properly.

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