MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: How do I design a simple test to test for certain nutrients?

Date: Wed Feb 9 16:08:29 2000
Posted By: Elizabeth Kunkel, Faculty, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Clemson University
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 949517904.Gb

Unfortunately, there is no simple test to quantitate these nutrients in 
foods. There are some relatively simple tests for presence or absence of 
carbohydrates and fats in foods, but none for proteins.  The fat and 
carbohydrate tests have been published by the National FFA Foundation in a 
manual called "Food Science, Safety and Nutrition."  The address I have for 
that information is PO Box 45205, Madison, Wisconsin 53744 (Phone 
608-829-3105).  Basically, the procedure for determining the presence of 
fat in foods involves putting food on brown paper bags and looking at the 
"spot" that develops.  The procedure for presence of carbohydrates involves 
using and iodine solution.  Iodine reacts with carbohydrates to form a 
brown pigment.  Even though the procedure calls for "Lugol's solution", the 
tincture of iodine solution from the pharmacy works as well.  
We have put the fat experiment as well as some other food experiments that can be used 
with this age group on our web site at  Then go to 
the section for "nutrition for teachers" and then to the listing of 
experiments.  They are available in PDF format.  If you have difficulty 
opening them, please contact us and we will be happy to send you the 
information. Good luck!  

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