A research team at Purdue University recently developed a method to detect minute levels of melamine in milk and milk powder in about 25 seconds.

An estimated 50,000 Chinese children were sickened and several died after drinking the melamine-contaminated formula. Melamine, which is used in plastics, was deliberately added to the formula to artificially bump up apparent protein levels.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines in November, limiting melamine in dairy products to one part-per-million or less.

The new method pairs mass spectrometry with a low-temperature plasma ionization probe technique to detect melamine at those minute levels.