The indirect detection of bleach (sodium hypochlorite) in beverages as evidence of product tampering.


Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) has been identified as the adulterant in a relatively large number of product tamperings that have been investigated by the Forensic Chemistry Center (FCC) of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In this work, household bleach was added to 23 different beverages at each of three levels. The impact of sodium hypochlorite on these beverages over a 13-day study period was evaluated using the following techniques: diphenylamine spot test for oxidizing agents, potassium iodide-starch test paper for oxidizing agents, pH, iodometric titration for quantitating hypochlorite, ion chromatography for chloride and chlorate quantitation, automated headspace sampling with gas chromatography-flame ionization detection (GC-FID) for determination of chloroform, and visual and organoleptic observations. This study has shown that hypochlorite is fragile when added to most common beverages and typically breaks down either partially or completely over time. In cases where a beverage is suspected of being adulterated with bleach but tests for hypochlorite are negative, it is still possible to characterize the product to demonstrate that the results are consistent with the addition of bleach. An adulterated product will give a positive test for oxidizing agents using the diphenylamine spot test. It is likely that the pH of the adulterated product will be higher than a control of that product. Ion chromatographic analysis shows elevated chloride and chlorate as compared with a control. And, chloroform may also be detected by GC-FID especially if the beverage that was adulterated contains citric acid.

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@article{Jackson2006TheID, title={The indirect detection of bleach (sodium hypochlorite) in beverages as evidence of product tampering.}, author={David S. Jackson and David F Crockett and Karen A. Wolnik}, journal={Journal of forensic sciences}, year={2006}, volume={51 4}, pages={827-31} }