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Hi-tech coaster offers instant answer on drink-spiking
Georgina Safe
October 03, 2005

DEAN Sunshine was enjoying a few Sunday afternoon drinks at home with friends when suddenly the gathering turned sour.

"Someone spiked my drink in my own home," Mr Sunshine said yesterday. "I think it was done as a prank, but it was not so funny to me."

Ten years on from Mr Sunshine's experience, drink-spiking is now a serious and growing problem across Australia, with 4500 people falling victim to the practice each year, of which 40per cent are then sexually assaulted, according to a recent Australian Institute of Criminology survey.

Mr Sunshine has decided to do something about it.

He has developed the Drink Safe Coaster, a hi-tech card in the shape of a coaster that can detect the presence of drugs in drinks.

"My mission is to stop these crimes before they happen," Mr Sunshine said.

Each card contains two separate litmus-type tests, which change colour when in contact with liquid spiked with drugs such as the notorious date-rape narcotic GHB (nicknamed "grievous bodily harm") and ketamine ("special K"), the two most-popular illicit drugs used in drink-spiking.

Users simply splash a little of their drink on to the test spots, and the colourless, odourless and almost tasteless drugs are immediately detectable.

"These drugs were impossible to detect by patrons before this technology was invented," Mr Sunshine said.
"Now people can discover if these drugs have been slipped into their drink, especially if they have left their drink unattended for any length of time."

Mr Sunshine's Drink Safe Coaster and his similar Drink Safe Detector test are the only Australian products to be selected for inclusion in an international design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York later this month.

The SAFE: Design Takes On Risk exhibition features 300 products from around the world aimed at reducing dangers to consumers.

"That is exactly the mission of my company (Drink Safe Technologies)," Mr Sunshine said.

The Drink Safe Coasters are stocked in pharmacies and about 100 nightclubs, pubs and bars across Australia, but Mr Sunshine believes there is still a long way to go in addressing drink-spiking.

"Everyone knows about it, but people still don't think it will happen to them," he said.

"The coasters are aimed at getting venues proactive and consumers aware and armed to deal with the problem."





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