This tiny patch can tell you if your food has gone bad. Engineering Research Assistant Hanie Yousefi (left) and Tohid Didar, Assistant Professor Mechanical Engineering at McMaster University show off the “Sentinel Wrap” patch. Photo credit: McMaster University
Trying to figure out if a food has gone bad? For food safety, simply looking at the food or doing a little “sniff test” isn’t a reliable or accurate way of determining food spoilage. But what if there was something on the food package itself that indicated whether a food has gone bad. Now there is!
A team of mechanical and chemical engineer researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario have developed a thin, plastic transparent patch – about the size of two postage stamps – called the “Sentinel Wrap” to detect harmful bacteria and pathogens on food. The patch has tiny droplets of DNA molecules printed on one side that act as sensors to signal the presence of E. Coli, a type of types of bacterium that can cause food poisoning.
In Canada, about 4 million (1 in 8) Canadians are affected by a foodborne illness every year. Because it doesn’t affect the food at all, the Sentinel Wrap patch could be installed on the inside of a food package such as raw meat or raw poultry. If harmful bacteria are present on the food, the DNA molecules on the patch would light up under ultraviolet light. Shoppers could use a handheld device such as a smart phone, to scan the patch and immediately know whether there are any harmful bacteria present in the food.
The invention can still take two years before it comes to market. Until then, prevent food poisoning by following the four principles of food safety: clean, separate, cook and chill…and ditch the “sniff test”!
Does your workplace offer free food at meetings,events or in the common area? Turns out that all of this free food can be adding about 1,300 empty calories to your week!
A one of a kind study in the USA analyzed the food and beverage choices of over 5,000 employees who either purchased food from on-site vending machines or the cafeteria, or obtained food for free in common areas, at meetings or at workplace social events. The preliminary results, presented at last month’s meeting of the American Society of Nutrition, found that nearly 25% of the employees obtained food from work at least once a week which added up to almost 1,300 calories by the end of the week. The bad news is that the food and beverages tended to be high in empty calories which contain little to no nutrition. Even worse news is that over 70% of the calories consumed came from free food that was offered in the workplace such as pizza, soda, cookies, brownies, cake and candy.
About 87% of Canadian employees have personal goals to eat healthier foods. Workplaces can play a huge role in helping employees eat better and improve their food habits. Start by creating a workplace healthy eating policy to ensure access and availability of healthy options in foodservice, vending machines and at workplace meetings / events. We can assess your current offerings and help you build and implement a winning workplace healthy eating policy that will boost productivity and performance! Contact me for more details and / or to book an inspiring workplace wellness presentation for your team.