Questionable meat? Check for E. coli with a cell phone

A new device from UCLA could mean the avoidance of food poisoning due to E. coli.

For those who love a good burger but fear that any pinkness in the middle will lead to food poisoning, a new device from UCLA might enable a more relaxing dining experience.

Researchers from the university’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a cell phone based sensor to detect the presence of Escherichia coli (E. coli), a bacteria that can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, in food and water.

The sensor uses battery-powered light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to detect and illuminate any E. coli present.

Popular Science reports:

It [the sensor] attaches to a typical cell phone camera and uses fluorescence imaging to detect the bacteria. Engineers at UCLA combined quantum dots, a type of tiny semiconductor, with capillaries containing antibodies. When the capillaries contain an E. coli sample, they emit light.

The cell phone attachment thereby works like a fluorescent microscope, illuminating the presence of the nasty bacteria.

While the engineers haven’t yet made plans to put the device on the market, the cell phone attachment illustrates just how useful and easy-to-use such a detector could be.

Image: UCLA Engineering

Scan Your Food For Bacteria With Your Cell Phone [PopSci]

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