June 17, 2024

McMaster Researchers Create Packaging Revealing Contamination

McMaster researchers have created food packaging that can reveal contamination of food, possibly helping prevent foodborne illness. Researchers Akansha Prasad, co-lead author of the paper that describes the invention, which was published in the journal Advanced Materials said in a statement, “This is something that can benefit everyone. We’re hoping this technology will see lives, money, and food waste.”

McMaster Researchers Create Packaging Revealing Contamination

Shadman Khan, co-lead author on the paper added, “We wanted to develop a system that was reliable, quick, affordable, and easy to use.”

The packaging will let producers, retailers, and consumers tell in real time whether the contents of a sealed food package are contaminated just by looking at it. Not having to open the package will eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination.

The tray is linked with a food-safe reagent that lets a built-in sensor detect the presence of Salmonella bacteria. The tray’s sloped sides direct juices to a sensor that is embedded in a window at the bottom of the tray. Anyone can use a cell phone to scan the sensor and it will tell them if the food is contaminated.

This tray will let producers, retailers, and officials trace and isolate any potential contamination quickly. This traceback will cut back on food waste, especially when compared to traditional recalls, which can involve huge quantities of food. And it will potentially save millions in health care costs and lost productivity.

Every year, there are 600,000,000 cases of foodborne illness around the world. Most of these cases are linked to food that is contaminated with pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria monocytogenes.

The McMaster researchers have been working for years on these technologies. The Lab-in-a-Package project includes 11 colleagues from teh fields of biomedical, mechanical and chemical engineering, medicine, and biochemistry.

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