Smart device: A Baidu official introducing
the 'smart chopsticks' at the Baidu World conference in Beijing. - AFP
BEIJING: From recycled cooking oil to fox meat and chemicals, a litany of food scandals have turned Chinese diners’ stomachs, but a new “smart chopsticks” concept by Internet search giant Baidu could put the answer in their hands.
The device, which the firm says can tell consumers whether the food in front of them is safe to eat, was born of an April Fool’s video, a spokesman said yesterday.
Baidu at the time had “no serious intention of actually pursuing this”, the spokesman said of the stunt it released earlier this year. “But it generated a lot of excitement both internally and externally.”
The latest stage of development was revealed this week, with a new video released by the company showing a user placing the electronic chopsticks in three different cups of cooking oil.
Sensors in the implements detect the oil’s temperature and its fitness for consumption, with the findings displayed on a smartphone app.
Poor food safety is a major concern in China
“Gutter oil” – cooking oil illegally made by reprocessing waste oil or by dredging up leftovers from restaurants is a particular concern.
Health authorities last year launched a crackdown on the use and manufacture of such oil, with more than 100 people arrested and 20 imprisoned - two of them for life - as part of the campaign.
China’s social media users lauded the company’s innovation yesterday, but lamented the need for the device in the first place.
“Is it really a good thing that they invented these?” wrote one user. “Can we still enjoy our food?”
“If I carried these chopsticks with me everywhere, I think I’d die of hunger,” wrote another. — AFP