(CN) — New technology could allow people to use their smartphones to detect when food has gone bad, according to the American Chemical Society.
The society published its scientists’ findings in the journal Nano Letters, describing a newly developed gas sensor and tagging device that can detect when meat and other food has gone rotten.
Using near-field communication (NFC) tags, which work similarly to RFID tags that track shipping items, the scientists found a way to transmit the information from the sensors.
The polymer-based gas sensor detects biogenic amines, the substance that gives rotting meat its foul odor.
The sensor was placed inside the communication tags, and after a day it successfully detected the substance.
When the sensors were switched on, they transmitted the information to a smartphone nearby.
“NFC tags have been considered as a powerful platform for wireless sensing, yet current detection methods still rely on expensive, professional microwave network analyzers due to the difficulty in switching NFC tags between on and off states,” the authors wrote.
They noted that the communication tags are compatible with inkjet printers, meaning they could be mass-produced.
“We demonstrated smartphone-readable meat spoilage detection using the modified wireless badge and envision that such a switchable badge holds promise in the field of intelligent wireless detection and sensing,” according to the study.
A team of Canadian researchers this year developed a test patch that can identify harmful foodborne pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella.
The transparent patch, which is printed with molecules to detect the contamination, can be placed directly on food packages.
The researchers believe that technology too could be mass-produced and prevent incidents of food poisoning.