Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Food Poisoning Prevention

packaged meat
Food poisoning is a very common illness, with over 3 million cases a year in the US alone. I can attest first hand the experience of food poisoning: it is certainly not fun. My personal experience stems from eating at shady restaurants and eateries in questionable areas of Boston. The illness is the result of consuming contaminated and/or toxic food. Such toxic food is contaminated by microbes which may be bacteria, viruses, and other very small toxins.

Some contaminated food is often hard to detect with just the naked eye due to the microscopic size of the toxins. However, Carlos Filipe and his chemical engineer colleagues have created a plastic film that detects the presence of E. coli. When the material touches the bacteria or its secretions, the film glows, indicating that the film and whatever it covers is contaminated. Practical use is still questionable, as the film requires UV light or a fluorescence scanner to view the film's glow. Researchers plan to eventually be able to detect other bacteria with films, such as Salmonella.

Advancements in determining when products are contaminated with food is crucial. Many people in the United States are affected by food poisoning, and if technology can be developed where it is commonplace in every super market then the number of cases could drop significantly. Further research could also include Filipe and colleague's film on packaged groceries so that the packaging glows when the food goes bad. This would be helpful in curbing food poisoning in produce and meats, giving you a timetable on when the food can or cannot be consumed.


Posted by Patrick Munley (2)

1 comment:

  1. I've eaten at Worcester so unfortunately I have also had run ins with food poisoning. Regardless, it is fascinating to hear about the inventions coming out of the chemical engineering field. Glowing films to detect E. Coli? That's awesome! Are these films already being used? If not, I wonder how soon they will start incorporating these new advancements into food contamination prevention.

    Harris (Week 1)