A New Plastic Film Glows to Flag Food Contaminated with Dangerous Microbes

(From ScienceNews.org)

Pathogen detectors built into plastic patches could someday spare you food poisoning.

Carlos Filipe, a chemical engineer at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and colleagues have developed a new kind of flexible film that’s coated in molecules that glow when they touch E. coli cells. This type of sensor also glows in the presence of molecules secreted by E. coli, so the material doesn’t have to be in direct contact with bacterial cells to flag food contamination.

Sensors about the size of postage stamps fluoresced brightly when tested on tainted meat and apple juice, but not when the sensors touched unspoiled samples, the researchers report online April 6 in ACS Nano.

Next, the scientists plan to make films that glow in the presence of other bacteria, such as Salmonella, says study coauthor Tohid Didar, a mechanical engineer at McMaster.

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