Healthcare Technology Featured Article

May 23, 2012

A Food Tattoo Can Tell if the Milk is Bad? Believe It!

I happened to have the TV on this morning while I was getting ready for work and my ears perked up when I heard the reporter talking about how much food we throw away every year. About $500 per family, she said.

But the next thing she said made me really pay attention. Researchers are working on a tiny new gadget that can help us save money, and keep us healthy, at the same time.

Called food, or edible, sensors, researchers at Tufts University have come up with a device that looks like a tiny gold stamp that they are putting on food. 

“Think of it as a tattoo,” Professor Fiorenzo Omenetto told CBS News in Boston. The square contains thousands of tiny antennas and is made up of silk and gold and can stick to any type of food.

With the swipe of a smartphone, or other device, you can see if that salad lettuce that says “washed” is truly safe to eat, or that milk that smells like it’s about to go, really is, or even if those eggs past their expiration date are still usable. Doctors say it could cut down or eradicate diseases like salmonella and E-coli.

CBS News explained that researchers boiled down silkworm cocoons to transform the silk into an edible plastic. Gold is then placed on top of the plastic in the shape of little antennas and it’s these antennas that can detect if the milk is spoiled or find E-coli in a healthy-looking bag of salad. “The idea is that, for example, if you have a build-up of bacteria then the antennae will be able to report whether the food is safe to eat or not,” Omenetto told CBS News.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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