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Executive Summary

CYANIDE DYE INDICATOR IS IN DEVELOPMENT AT UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON Department of Chemistry. The indicator, which can be placed in a drug product, turns a deep "Prussian blue" color in the presence of cyanide. The indicator can also be placed in capsule walls, or in the walls of a product package as well as in the drug itself. The chief researcher on the project is David Honigs. The project was mentioned at a Nov. 14 meeting of the National Science Board on University/Industry Research Programs. Research on the indicator was initially funded by the University of Washington and present research is supported by a gift of $10,000 from the Food and Dairy Supply Association. Companies which have had tampering problems have reportedly expressed interest in the indicator. During testing, the indicator showed efficacy when it was mixed with commercial products. The indicator was also mixed with different solutions to check color changes and how long the dye could remain exposed to air before oxidizing. Shelf-life of the dye has been tested with food products. The indicator is composed of iron compounds, which are non-toxic and nutritionally beneficial, researcher Honigs maintains. One possible side effect, for people who have an excess of iron in their blood, is hemochromatosis, but Honigs said that the amount of iron in the indicator is below the RDA. While the dye is already available to drug manufacturers, commercial use of the indicator would require adjustments in production procedures. Those changes could take six months to one year, Honigs estimates. The University of Washington is doing preliminary work to plan a laboratory that will specialize in product protection research.

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