New technology could replace best-before dates on food products

By Dori Modney (@Dori_Modney on Twitter) with files from McMaster University research news
April 10, 2018 - 2:12pm

HAMILTON, ONT. --  It's a question we've all asked when going to the refrigerator looking for the fixings of our net meal -- "Is that meat still good"?
 
Now, researchers at McMaster University have an answer to the potentially dangerous question.  They've developed a transparent test patch for food packaging that detects the presence of potentially deadly bacteria like E. coli.

The patch, dubbed ``Sentinel Wrap'',  triggers a molecular signal that a disease-causing agent has contaminated products such as meat or milk.

E. coli mostly lives in the intestines of cattle, but the bacteria have also been found in chickens, deer, sheep and pigs.

Graduate student Hanie Yousefi, who is the lead author of the study, says the patch could someday replace the ``best-before'' date on food and drinks by showing if items should be thrown out. 
 
The McMaster news report on the invention, indicates that if a pathogen is present in the food or drink inside the package, it would trigger a signal in the packaging that could be read by a smartphone or other simple device.
 
The need for such a product is underscored by statistics from the World Health Organization, which has data showing that foodborne pathogens result in approximately 600 million illnesses and 420,000 deaths per year. About 30 per cent of those cases involve children five years old and younger.
 
You can read more about Sentinel Wrap in the research section of the McMaster University website.
 
 

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