They are developing smart tags to detect contaminants in food

Experts from Clarkson University in the United States presented at the 254th National Meeting and Exhibition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) new smart labels that can detect pollutants and food spoilage.

According to experts, food packaging has become a very important element when it comes to product protection and preservation. Smart labels are key to achieving the goal, but one of the problems when implementing these technological solutions is the cost, which decreases with each new label introduced.

The research being carried out relates to bioactive nanostructures, or chemical and biological molecules that are assembled in precise proportions to form specific structures. They can be integrated into flexible and economical substrates such as paper or plastic, allowing the creation of new labels.

Experts comment that it was possible to build a very versatile detection platform that integrates all the reagents needed to detect contaminating substances or substances resulting from degradation, including the detection of free radicals or antioxidants on a simple piece of paper: “This technology is very affordable and easy to implement, which benefits the industry and the population in general,” explained Silvana Andreescu, the main person responsible for the research.

According to information provided by experts, the vast majority of researchers work with sensors that, although similar, use solutions that migrate through channels, however the system they work on uses stable inorganic particles or signaling molecules.redox. When these molecules interact with substances to be detected, they change color, and the intensity of this change determines the degree of concentration of the substance being analyzed in real time.

Since all the reagents needed for the analysis are integrated in the paper, you only need to look at the label to check if everything is correct and the product is in optimal condition for consumption.

Regarding food contamination, experts have developed a prototype sensor that can detect ochratoxin A, a type of mycotoxin produced by fungi from the genera Aspergillus and Penicillium, which is considered the most toxic and is found in various products such as coffee or cereals. In addition, there is a possibility that the sensor will be able to detect the presence of pathogens such as Salmonella or Escherichia coli, bacteria responsible for a large number of food infections.


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