Checking food for the presence of harmful substances using your smartphone: this is the aim of the new European FoodSmartphone consortium. Researchers will develop an entirely novel approach towards food safety monitoring. Recently, the European Research Executive Agency granted almost €3 million to this consortium, which consists of RIKILT Wageningen University & Research) and institutes from five other countries.
Testing on the spot
At present, samples are still taken throughout the food production chain, registered and sent to laboratories where they are tested for residues of pesticides, antibiotics, natural toxins, allergens and other contaminants. Depending on the numbers of samples and the difficulty of testing, it may then take several days before the results are available, even though nothing is wrong in most cases. It is envisaged that in the future some of these tests will done on site by food inspectors using their smartphone. This would not only save time and money, but also mean that laboratories can use their more advanced equipment to focus on the much more relevant suspected cases and to obtain evidence of any food safety violations.
Use your smartphone for food testing
With American and German partners, RIKILT previously developed a smartphone attachment and app for detecting a banned hormone injust one drop of milk.
Besides enabling more efficient monitoring of food quality by professionals, it is quite conceivable that even consumers will be able to use their smartphones for food testing in the future. They will be supported by intelligent apps and wireless support to ensure the accuracy and quality of the measurement. Another example of this approach is the RIKILT food scanner, with which future consumers will be able to determine the origin, shelf-life and composition of food.