Science & Technology News

It became possible to detect food contaminants with a microchip

Researchers have designed a chip that can increase food safety by quickly detecting pathogens in food.

The new microfluidic chip detects several food-borne pathogens at the same time, improving food safety and preventing contaminated products from entering the market, according to the Anna Science and Technology news agency, citing SciTech Daily.

In some global markets, every once in a while a food product is recalled due to some type of contamination. For consumers of such products, a recall can raise doubts about the safety and security of what they eat and drink; And yet, in many cases, the call is made too late to prevent people from getting sick.

Despite the food industry's efforts to combat pathogens, products still get contaminated and people still get sick. Much of the problem stems from existing tools for screening for harmful pathogens, which are often not effective enough to protect people.

Researchers from Guangdong University of Technology and Pudong New District People's Hospital in China have developed a new method for detecting foodborne pathogens that is faster, cheaper and more effective than existing methods. These scholars hope that their method can improve screening processes and keep contaminated food away from consumers.

Even with the best detection methods, finding infected pathogens is not easy.

“Identifying these pathogens is challenging because of their diverse nature and the different environments in which they can grow,” said Silu Feng, who conducted the research. Also, the low concentration of pathogens in large food samples, the presence of similar non-pathogenic organisms, and the complex nature of different food types make accurate and rapid diagnosis difficult.

There are currently methods such as cell culture and DNA sequencing to detect such contamination, but their use on a large scale is challenging. Not every batch of food can be tested thoroughly, so some contaminants go unnoticed.

“In general, these methods face limitations such as long lead times, the need for specialized equipment and trained personnel, and challenges in detecting multiple pathogens simultaneously, highlighting the need for more advanced detection methods,” Feng said.

Now, Chinese researchers have taken a different approach and designed a microfluidic chip that uses light to detect multiple types of pathogens simultaneously. Their chip is made using 3D printing, making it easy to manufacture in large quantities and modify it to target specific pathogens.

It became possible to detect food contaminants with a microchip

This chip is divided into four sections, each of which is designed to identify a specific pathogen. If that pathogen is present in the sample, it binds to the detection surface and changes its optical properties. This arrangement allowed the researchers to isolate several common bacteria, such as E. coli”, “Salmonella”, “Listeria” and “Staphylococcus aureus” quickly and in very low concentrations.

According to Feng, among the advantages of this method, we can mention the quick and effective detection of several different pathogens, the easy interpretation of the detection results, and the significant improvement of the detection efficiency.

This research group plans to continue developing its device to make it more practical for food screening.

The results of this research have been published in AIP Advances.

Mhd Narayan

Bringing over 8 years of expertise in digital marketing, I serve as a news editor dedicated to delivering compelling and informative content. As a seasoned content creator, my goal is to produce engaging news articles that resonate with diverse audiences.

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