15 Mar 2016

Prevent botulism with spectroscopy

Clostridium botulinum is the germ that produces the toxin Botulism, which often occurs in canned, preserved or femernted foods, due to the lack of oxygen. FTIR liquid transmission spectroscopy is a suitable method for the measurement of water contents.


Symptoms of Botulism include:

  • difficulty swallowing 
  • dry mouth
  • slurred speech
  • weak muscles
  • double vision
  • vomiting
  • vertigo 
  • diarrhoea
  • progressively worse muscle paralysis 

Testing liquids for clostridium botulinum

Whether it is drinking water or some kind of liquid derived from the foodstuffs intended for consumption, regular testing is an essential part of quality control. It is important users can test quickly and accurately.


The Pearl FTIR transmission spectrometer accessory is a small but powerful tool for the IR transmission analysis of liquid samples. The accessory uses a horizontal liquid cell called the 'Oyster Cell' to hold the sample between two windows.

  • you can change the bottom window to customise the pathlength
  • fringing patterns can be avoided by using the cell's wedged angle feature
  • samples can be injected with a syringe or spotted with a pipette
  • the cell can be easily wiped clean
  • you can check the condition of your sample through the top window
  • the Pearl comes in various colours

Check out our Pearl vs Traditional Liquid Cell application note.

Testing solids for clostridium botulinum

Whether you're in a developing country testing aid packages or work for a commercial food manufacturer, quality checking processed ingredients in bulk is easier with the Specac Quest.


The Quest Attenuated Total Reflectance (ATR) accessory can test liquid or solid samples. It is especially useful for testing solid as no sample preparation is required. You don't need to grind or pellet press your solid sample, just grab a small sample and test.

The benchmark for performance and value, the Quest uses gold-coated optics and precision-moulded mirrors. The accessory has high-throughput and extended wavelength capabilities suitable for both the mid and far infrared.

The accessory uses a magnetically-fixed, interchangeable puck that comes in:

  • high throughput diamond
  • extended wavelength diamond
  • ZnSe
  • Ge

Read our ATR Explained application note on the Quest ATR accessory.

Check out #SpectroscopySolutions for more.