Discrimination of Malaysian Swiflet’s Nest and Its Potential Adulterants Using Handheld Portable FTIR Spectroscopic System

Ketty, G.S.L., F.H. Roosnoor, I. Faridah and I. Norakmar

Ketty, G.S.L., F.H. Roosnoor, I. Faridah and I. Norakmar

Edible bird nest (EBN) is woven from gelatinous strands of Swiftlet’s saliva mixed with minor feathers during their breeding season. The Chinese has been enjoying this cuisine for thousands of years back since Tang (618-907 AD) and Sung (960-1279 AD) dynasties. EBN can be sold at very high price due to its high nutritional and medicinal values. Besides, it is also considered as the world most expensive animal product. These reasons led to rampant adulteration of the expensive pure EBN. Various adulterants can be added into the pure EBN which includes Treme!la fungus, karaya gum, red seaweed, fried pork skin, egg white, gelatin, vermicelli rice, rice, cellophane noodles, starch, milk, and jelly. Other adulteration methods include staining, bleaching and incorporating cheaper EBN into the more expensive ones. A variety of authentication techniques had been established and all have their own advantages and disadvantages. The empirical method is rather simple compared to chemical method that requires extraction of the EBN prior to analysis and mostly not environmental friendly. Handheld Portable Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) system can be used in the laboratory and in the field in the same manner with no sample preparation needed. This system is versatile, robust and come with interchangeable sampling interfaces; diffuse, grazing angle, specular reflection or spherical attenuated total reflectance (ATR) that make it a highly useful handheld mid-IR spectrometer that suits with any type of samples. A resulting spectrum represents molecular absorption and transmission, creating a molecular fingerprint of the EBN. Like any fingerprint, no two unique molecular structures produce the same infrared spectrum. This study was carried out to discriminate the EBN and its’ potential adulterants through the EBN fingerprint using the handheld portable FTIR system.