Scientists in Canada have developed a risk-free translucent patch that could be used in food wrapping to examine contamination by bacteria without the need of un-wrapping the product1.
A lot of us have strived to sort out if a food item in our fridge is good enough to consume. Is that meat still fine? Are you certain? Now, with a little help from science, there’s an easy, in expensive sensor that could substitute those unreliable dates mentioned on our desired foods.
The “Best Before” date is no longer reliable enough. Different scientists and biochemists have joined forces and have developed a transparent, see-through patch, printed with harmless molecules, which can detect the contamination happening in the food. The patch can be incorporated directly into food packaging, where it can monitor the contents for harmful pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella.
The idea is that a simple tool or even a smart-phone could pick up the harmless signal and tell if the food inside the packaging is safe to eat. The authors suggested that the new material, which remained stable for synchronized monitoring of pathogen, could be used to determine the least shelf life of consumable packaged food products.
The researchers are naming the new material “Sentinel Wrap” in tribute to the Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network, an interdisciplinary research network that worked on paper-based detection systems. That network’s research ultimately gave rise to the new food-testing technology.
About 1 out of 10 people become ill by eating contaminated food each year around the world. Raw or undercooked meat, eggs, dairy, and fresh produce contaminated by pathogenic E. coli, non-typhoid Salmonella, norovirus, and Campylobacter causes most of the food-borne diarrheal diseases.
The lead author of study Hanie Yousefi, says:
“In the future, if you go to a store and you want to be sure the meat you’re buying is safe at any point before you use it, you’ll have a much more reliable way than the expiration date. Mass producing such a patch would be fairly cheap and simple, as the DNA molecules that detect food pathogens can be printed onto the test material.”
Getting the discovery to market would need a profitable collaborator and authoritarian approvals. Researchers have pointed out that the same technology could also be used in other applications, such as bandages to indicate if wounds are infected, or for wrapping surgical instruments to assure they are sterile.
Yousefi, H., M.M. Ali, H.M. Su, C.D. Filipe and T.F. Didar, 2018. Sentinel wraps: Real-time monitoring of food contamination by printing DNAzyme probes on food packaging. ACS Nano, 12: 3287-3294.
Written by: Rabeeia
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17 November, 2019