How can you be sure that bacteria are not festering in your food? Dangerous pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria and chemical contaminants are responsible for more than 76 million food-borne illnesses a year in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control. Bacteria, viruses and toxins thrive on food that is undercooked, inadequately refrigerated or prepared in places where hygiene standards are lax. One Israeli company, however, hopes to make your food safe from the farm to your fork.
Herzliya-based MS Tech has developed advanced smart sensor technology that can detect the presence of contaminants and related chemicals in just three seconds, in the field.
The company’s innovative FoodScan 3000 is – according to the company – the only hand-held device now on the market that tests samples for bacteria and provides on-site, immediate analysis. In the past, samples had to be sent to a lab for analysis – a time-consuming and costly process. Another benefit is that unlike other testing systems, FoodScan 3000 is green; it does not use radioactive material or ionizing sources.
Food safety is an issue of growing concern worldwide. In the U.S. recent recalls of suspect ground beef, peanut butter and lettuce, are increasing the pressure for expanded food safety inspection. The demand to keep food safe has spawned the food safety and production inspection business, a sector estimated at $2.5 billion annually.
“Our technology can detect the presence or absence of bacteria and contaminants in food before anyone can see or smell them,” Doron Shalom, CEO of MS Tech tells Israel21c. Shalom, who holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics, has proven experience in commercializing sensor technologies. He previously served as VP of global sales and marketing at Scent Detection Technologies, providing trace detection systems for aviation and airport security. Those systems were part of the security and screening procedures used at the Beijing Olympics.
Based on an array of High Frequency Quartz Crystal Microbalance (HGQ-CM) sensors and coatings, the technology from MS Tech provides high sensitivity and selectivity in detecting target molecules and can tell you whether or not your food is contaminated in three seconds flat.
Weighing in at just 800 grams and the size of about two iphones, FoodScan 3000 is integrated with HF-QCM sensors that are embedded with smart detection algorithms. The surface of each sensor has a chemical coating that is sensitive to different families of target molecules.
A big benefit is early detection of spoiled food. Sensitive to each contaminant, FoodScan 3000 detects a change in quality at any level, and can provide a relative indication of the contamination level of cheese, milk and other foods.
The company’s long-range vision is that one day consumers will be able to scan their own food for contaminants. MS Tech is also in negotiations with manufacturers of food processing equipment to integrate its plug and play sensors into their roduction lines and inspection processes. (Israel21c)