Saturday, July 18, 2015

Authenticity of Edible Bird's Nest

Authenticity of Edible Bird's Nest

In recent years, there has been increasing reports of fake edible bird’s nests.  Starting in the 1990s, the first comprehensive report on authentication of edible bird's nests were published.  These reports demonstrated the possibility to use scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis, flame atomic emission spectroscopy, inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy, ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy and other physico-chemical techniques to determine the authenticity of edible bird's nest. These tests were difficult to run, expensive and only worked on some of the substances used to imitate birds nests. Recently, a China based research team developed a simple but accurate and reliable spectrophotometry method to determine edible bird's nest content. The method is based on the reaction between N-acetylneuramic acid and ninhydrin in acid solution. The method evaluates the internal content of N-acetylneuramic acid, a nine-carbon sugars, which is one of the major components in edible bird's nest.

About the Author:   

Christopher W. Runckel, a former senior US diplomat who served in many counties in Asia, is a graduate of the University of Oregon and Lewis and Clark Law School. He served as Deputy General Counsel of President Gerald Ford’s Presidential Clemency Board. Mr. Runckel is the principal and founder of Runckel & Associates, a Portland, Oregon based consulting company that assists businesses expand business opportunities in Asia. (

Until April of 1999, Mr. Runckel was Minister-Counselor of the US Embassy in Beijing, China. Mr. Runckel lived and worked in Thailand for over six years. He was the first permanently assigned U.S. diplomat to return to Vietnam after the Vietnam War. In 1997, he was awarded the U.S. Department of States highest award for service, the Distinguished Honor Award, for his contribution to improving U.S.-Vietnam relations. Mr. Runckel is one of only two non-Ambassadors to receive this award in the 200-year history of the U.S. diplomatic service.

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