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Help me solve this problem, for SCIENCE!

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  • Member since
    May 2006
  • From: East Coast
Help me solve this problem, for SCIENCE!
Posted by CarnivourousDonut on Monday, March 9, 2015 6:52 PM

Background:

I work in a State Laboratory, we test everything from blood, to rabies, food, feed, plants, drugs, and things that require the highest Bio-Safety Levels. I am the IT guy there, but interact closely with the scientists (I have a background in Chemistry and Biology)

So today I overheard them discussing a  case where they have been asked if it would be possible to determine the amount of alcohol present in donuts (and for the record, not me, I don't drink.) Thinking I mis-heard them, I asked for clarification. The original statement was correct. A small company is producing donuts infused with alcohol. If the content of alcohol by weight exceeds a certain amount, the State steps in and it becomes a regulated substance. The inspectors believe this limit is being exceeded, but need some sort of proof, so they have turned to us.

Now, the donuts are being infused post-baking, but as you all well know, alcohol cooks off easily, so any heat-based reduction of the finished product will cook off the alcohol, thus nullifying the test. Many brilliant minds at the lab, and we have many, are stumped.

Naturally, they turned to me for a solution. I mean after all, I'm an IT guy so I must have the solutions to everything right?

Right.

My first thought is they are trying to apply a technological solution to a social one. Rather than try to determine scientifically how much booze they put in the donuts, bribe a worker to tell you. 

My next thought was, give us an unending supply of alcohol-infused donuts, delivered daily, and we'll *find* a scientific process for them! Granted, repeat-ability might take a hit, but hey, sacrifices have to be made in the name of science.

My final thought was, again, thinking of sacrifices, eat the donuts one at a time, monitor blood alcohol levels, divide by age, weight, etc, deduce from there.

__

So, good people of FS forums, help me solve this issue for them (in a serious scientific way, or a most silly way), I will bring the best solutions to the scientists and let you know what they think. 

Tags: alcohol , donuts , science
Let's rattle the cage, crack the machine. Let 'em know who you are, shine to be seen.
  • Member since
    March 2005
  • From: Lancaster, South Carolina
Posted by Devil Dawg on Monday, March 9, 2015 6:56 PM

You ain't, by any chance, the "new" guy there, are ya? Propeller Hope that they aren't trying to pull one over on you!!

I would tend to agree that alcohol-laced doughnuts won't retain the alcohol for long. Evaporation would render them useless. 

Devil Dawg

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  • Member since
    September 2005
  • From: Illinois: Hive of Scum and Villany
Posted by Sprue-ce Goose on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 6:26 AM

Just doing a Google search brings up a LOT of articles about alcohol in donuts........mostly those with some kind of frosting but also some "Bismarck " style pastries with alcohol in the filling.

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What company produces those donuts? 

Tags: donuts
Mij
  • Member since
    September 2014
Posted by Mij on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 11:19 AM
It's not like alcohol in confectionary is a new concept (bourbon chocolate, rum cake, Black Forest cake). However those items alcohol content is determined would probably work. Your simple method of testing people consuming the product blood alcohol levels seems valid. Does the alcohol content of the food matter if a persons digestive system processing speed is the limiting factor for them getting intoxicated?

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  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: SW Virginia
Posted by Gamera on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 11:24 AM

Well, other than getting the recipe and determining the percentage of alcohol vs. the percentage of donut batter? Wink

I guess you could feed them to lab rats until they get tipsy and fall over. Dead

"I dream in fire but work in clay." -Arthur Machen

 

  • Member since
    May 2006
  • From: East Coast
Posted by CarnivourousDonut on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 12:43 PM

Heh I'm not the new guy, this is a legit problem (problem, so to speak)

So far the guy (ABC enforcer) is not telling us the name of the donut shop, but it must be small, I can't find any relevant hits for the area he operates out of.

>> Does the alcohol content of the food matter if a persons digestive system processing speed is the limiting factor for them getting intoxicated?<<

I have no idea, I'll have to ask...

Let's rattle the cage, crack the machine. Let 'em know who you are, shine to be seen.
  • Member since
    January 2006
  • From: NW Washington
Posted by dirkpitt77 on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 3:24 PM

Here's what I would do:

You need a test group, and you need a control group, both composed of at least 100 people to be statistically significant.

The basic rule of thumb in law enforcement (that I heard in a citizens' police class here) is it takes the body one hour to process one alcoholic drink enough so that the consumer will be legally sober at the end of the hour.

So, first you give the control group one alcoholic drink per hour, and measure their blood-alcohol content say, at the end of the hour. Again, average all 100 blood-alcohol measurements to give the average BAC for the group.

 Then you give the test group 1 donut per hour, and measure THEIR BAC at the end of an hour. Again, average all 100 BAC's and get the number.

Compare the BAC's of the folks given alcohol, with those given donuts. If the numbers are close,  you might have a case. If not, I'd say your donuts are safe.

Just what I'd do.

    "Some say the alien didn't die in the crash.  It survived and drank whiskey and played poker with the locals 'til the Texas Rangers caught wind of it and shot it dead."

Mij
  • Member since
    September 2014
Posted by Mij on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 3:55 PM

I googled 'alcohol infused donuts' and the number one return was.......(drum roll, wait for it)..........................

Drunken Donut Co. Big Smile

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  • Member since
    September 2005
  • From: Illinois: Hive of Scum and Villany
Posted by Sprue-ce Goose on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 5:07 PM

For some reason, the discussion about test subjects eating donuts has conjured up memories of the WKRP in Cincinnati episode "Fish Story"

http://www.hulu.com/watch/290

Whistling

 

Tags: donuts
  • Member since
    November 2003
  • From: State of Mississippi. State motto: Virtute et armis (By valor and arms)
Posted by mississippivol on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 5:51 PM

"Booger!!" Drats, I hope I don't get banned......

 

...and keep the gov't oughta my donutsWink

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 10:15 PM

One could surmise that alcohol is processed by the body much the same way sugar is, i know from experience i would take a "good night out" and the subsequent damage the next day over a full on sugar rush and crash. Ok back on track, the above mentioned tests of a donut eating group sounds logical however ethol alcohol would evaporate out leaving you with a bunch of folks bouncing off the walls then wishing they were never born. SIGN ME UP  IT'S FREE DONUTS! Ok ok ok

we're modelers it's what we do

  • Member since
    March 2009
  • From: Yorkville, IL
Posted by wolfhammer1 on Thursday, March 12, 2015 7:57 PM

How about this.  Get  fresh donuts.  Place them in a sealed chamber and draw a partial vacuum.  The alcohol should evaporate.  Draw the air and alcohol mixture off into a cooled chamber to condense the alcohol and measure how much you get.  It could take several tries to get the vacuum level and cooling right, but it might work.  Just draw the vacuum slowly, otherwise the donut might explode.

John

  • Member since
    September 2005
  • From: Illinois: Hive of Scum and Villany
Posted by Sprue-ce Goose on Thursday, March 12, 2015 8:08 PM

mississippivol

"Booger!!" Drats, I hope I don't get banned......

Well, maybe a lawyer can get ya enough of a settlement to buy a townhouse with Dr. Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap......Wink

As for donuts............it must be possible to do a test of the contents by analyzing the donuts chemically.

Perhaps using a spectrophotometer ? 

Aren't there any chemists in that department?

.

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...and, yes,  keep the gov't oughta my donutsWink

Tags: donuts
  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Friday, March 13, 2015 10:38 AM

Actually, the human nose is quite sensitive for ethyl alcohol, , and should be able to smell any level that would cause a problem. It you really want to get sensitive about it, I think you could probably train certain animals to give you quite a sensitive test.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    August 2008
Posted by tankerbuilder on Friday, March 13, 2015 12:52 PM

Well :

     I don't have a problem with alcohol in donuts ! Just send them to me and after three or four boxes I will let you know if I am getting high ! Problem is , if they're glazed then I'll get a sugar high anyway !

   Oh well , can't blame a guy for trying . Right !     tanker -Builder

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