Scientists have developed an electronic device capable of determining whether food is safe to eat or not – by measuring its acidity - and this holds the potential to significantly reduce food wastage, which is estimated by some to be as much as 100kgs per person per year.
The sensor could be read by a scanner or by a mobile device with an appropriate app.
The plastic ADC (analog-digital converter) was invented by a team with members from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, Universita di Catania in Italy, CEA-Liten and STMicroelectronics.
The breakthrough lies in the use of plastic for the electronic device, rather than silicon. The capability to provide this type of feedback already exists, but only using silicon-based devices that are expensive to produce. The plastic devices can, apparently, be produced for €0.01 each – around a tenth of the cost of comparable silicon-based circuitry – making them practicable for even relatively inexpensive foods.
Being plastic-based, the device is also said to be able to be incorporated in plastic packaging and a range of flexible surfaces.
The invention is attractive because much food is wasted because it has passed a sell-by date that is often conservative as manufacturers and retailers try to minimise the possibility that food might be ‘off’ when sold.