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New sensor could revolutionize food safety and reduce food waste

by News Staff
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Food waste and food-borne diseases pose significant challenges for urban populations today, resulting in high greenhouse gas emissions and substantial economic and environmental costs. To address these issues, it is crucial to improve food processing, transportation, and preservation methods by leveraging advancements in technology.

Current monitoring processes rely on expensive chromatographic devices and laboratory settings, which not only consume excessive resources and time but also require skilled personnel. Consequently, these methods have proven inefficient given the current circumstances.

However, a recent study published in Nature Food introduces a promising alternative: a novel sensor that is cost-effective, user-friendly, and capable of replacing lab monitoring. This miniature wireless device, measuring just 2 x 2 cm, offers real-time measurements, is battery-free, and can be seamlessly integrated with smartphones. It is particularly effective for monitoring high-protein foods like beef, chicken, and fish.

Led by Dr. Emin İstif from Kadir Has University (Molecular Biology and Genetics) and Asst. Prof. Levent Beker from Koç University (Mechanical Engineering), the research team, including Prof. İskender Yılgör and Dr. Emel Yılgör from Koç University (Chemistry), Asst. Prof. Çağdaş Dağ from Koç University (Molecular Biology and Genetics), and Asst. Prof. Hatice Ceylan Koydemir from Texas A&M University, developed this groundbreaking device.

Unlike existing solutions that rely on color changes in food, this device employs a capacitive measurement method, utilizing near-field communication (NFC) technology for power-free and wireless communication. This innovative approach overcomes the moisture sensitivity and distance-related data inaccuracies associated with resistive devices.

The introduction of this invention not only presents cost-saving opportunities for companies but also benefits consumers significantly. Upon widespread commercialization, the device will enable continuous monitoring on store shelves, empowering users to assess freshness before purchasing or consuming food at home. This on-demand spoilage analysis via mobile phones will play a vital role in reducing food waste and preventing food-borne illnesses.

The authors aim to contribute to the global fight against climate change and greenhouse gas emissions by offering a cost-effective and accessible solution. They plan to focus on further enhancing the product’s commercial potential in the near future.

In conclusion, the development of this new sensor technology holds great promise for addressing food waste and food-borne diseases. By leveraging its cost-effectiveness and accessibility, this innovation has the potential to make a significant impact in combating global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: Koc University

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