Researchers at the University of Valencia, have developed a kit to detect the presence of γ-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) in beverages with the naked eye.

With slightly salty taste, GHB is a colourless, odourless compound, which can override the will of the person when consumed.

The research team explained that the universty has secured the patent for the system, which can safely detect the GHB substance in alcoholic beverages and soft drinks.

University of Valencia predoctoral researcher Silvia Rodríguez Nuévalos said: “When you mix spirits with non-alcoholic beverages, for example, a tonic, the detection problems increase, as those beverages contain products that can give false positives or false negatives.

“With the sensor developed by the University of Valencia scientific team, the composition of the drinks does not change the response, so it is a safer method.”

The Organic Materials for Controlled Detection and Release (MODeLiC) research team developed the kit, headed by the university’s Organic Chemistry professor Ana María Costero.

The kit comes with colourimetric sensors that change colour if there is any GHB presence in the beverage.

According to the Spanish Society of Emergency Medicine (SEMES), substances such as GHB are used in approximately 20% of sexual assaults.

University of Valencia researcher and in charge of the project Pablo Gaviña said: “We want to make a kit with which women can check when they go to leisure centres if there is something abnormal in their drink. The person takes a drop of the drink, adds it to the solution and if it changes colour, the drink contains GHB. It is a personal protection system.”