This electronic ‘nose’ could help combat the risk of food poisoning

Most of the time, the human nose is unable to detect the presence of bacteria in food. — AFP Relaxnews

A startup has developed a new technology, aided by artificial intelligence, to detect the presence of dangerous bacteria in food. Deployed on a large scale, it could help reduce the risk of food poisoning, among other things.

Sensifi has succeeded in developing a kind of artificial nose, which uses advanced sensors capable of identifying volatile organic compounds emitted by pathogenic bacteria present in food – such as salmonella, listeria and E. coli – even at very low concentrations. When compounds that can be emitted by these types of bacteria are detected, an alert is sent to a computer responsible for analysing the data in order to identify exactly what is involved.

For the moment, this technology is still in its infancy, but it could have many applications, starting with the food industry. It could detect the presence of dangerous bacteria in the food storage, manufacturing and distribution chain, for example.

Salmonella is a bacterium found in raw or undercooked foods such as poultry, eggs and dairy products. Listeria, on the other hand, is sometimes found in cured meats, seafood, cheese and vegetables. The same goes for E. coli. Such a device could help reduce the risk of food poisoning in the population.

Ultimately, the process could also be extended to the medical field, with the potential to identify bacteria responsible for hospital-acquired infections, blood or urinary tract infections, pneumonia, etc. This would enable doctors to treat infections more quickly and effectively.

At city level, this type of technology could one day be adapted to air and water quality monitoring. – AFP Relaxnews

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