Smart Packaging Can Reduce Food Safety Incidences

The Lempert Report
October 23, 2018

It’s been a promise from the packaging industry for at least 30 years. A package that would flag foods and beverages that contained harmful bacteria or contaminants.

And although it's been tested, its still hasn’t made it to market – but perhaps that is about to change. 

A team of researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario are hoping to make it easier for consumers to tell if a package or meat or salad greens is contaminated with a potential pathogen, like E. coli, by simply looking at a small, thin, plastic patch they call Sentinel Wrap, reports CBC Canada.

One side of the transparent, durable, and flexible sensing strip is coated with a microarray of droplets of DNA molecules known as DNAzymes. If a pathogen, like E. coli, comes in contact with the DNAzymes, the strip will light up. 

Shoppers then have to use an app on a mobile device to "read" the fluorescence to see if the food inside the wrap was spoiled. 

McMaster's Prof. Carlos Filipe told Digital Journal, "Essentially the sequence has been designed so if a bacteria is present, that DNA is going to be broken in a particular location."

The research was published in the journal ACS Nano and the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health NCBI – we can only hope this time it becomes a mainstream reality.