New Laser Could 'Sniff' Out Spoiled Food
Lasers could soon be used to optically sniff meat, bread and other foods to determine their freshness and safety.
Today, foods are only spot-checked for safety, meaning that not every item is examined and there is still a risk that a bad egg (so to speak) can slip through.
The new technology "will make it possible to check a much higher number of products than at present," said Märta Lewander, an atomic physicist at Lund University in Sweden who is working on the instrument's development.
The laser technology works because most food packaging even ones that contain aluminum foil, such as fruit juice cartons allow some light to pass through.
By shining an intense light at a food item, scientists can "sniff" the carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen content inside the packaging.
The laser is connected to a handheld unit that relays the gas content information to a computer, where it is analyzed to make sure it contains the right composition.
The technology is being developed by the Swedish company Gasporox.
Lewander, who is the company's chief technical officer, said she envisions grocery stores using the laser technology to better determine the shelf life of their goods in the future.
We hope that, in the long term, this type of equipment could also help to stop people throwing so much food away, because they would know that it is packaged as it should be," she said.
Whereâ??s My Food Replicator?
Global Food Shortage Becomes Urgent as Planet Warms
Genetically Engineered Cells Shoots Out First Ever Biological Laser