Researchers’ New Sensor Can Detect Spoiled Milk Before Opening

Tuesday, May 7, 2019 - 15:40

Researchers of the Department of Biological Systems Engineering (BSE), the WSU/UI School of Food Science and other departments have developed a sensor that can ‘smell’ if milk is still good or has gone bad.

The sensor consists of chemically coated nanoparticles that react to the gas produced by milk and the bacterial growth that indicates spoilage, according to Shyam Sablani, professor in BSE, Washington State University reports.

“If it’s going bad, most food produces a volatile compound that doesn’t smell good,” Sablani said. “That comes from bacterial growth in the food, most of the time. But you can’t smell that until you open the container.”

The breakthrough is in the early stages, but Sablani and his colleagues showed in a paper published in the journal Food Control that their chemical reaction works in a controlled lab environment.

The next step for the team is developing a way to visually show how long a product has before it spoils. Currently the sensor only shows if milk is ok or spoiled.

“We’ll have to work with the industry to make this work,” Sablani said. “But we’re confident that we can succeed and help improve food safety and shelf life for consumers.”

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