Business Impact

Fiber Optic Food Safety

Each year, contamination by E. coli bacteria causes more than 70,000 cases of food poisoning. Present methods for detecting these germs in food entail making bacterial cultures and take eight to 48 hours to deliver a verdict. A fiber-optic probe originally intended for sniffing out biowarfare agents works in as little as 15 minutes, says microbiologist Daniel DeMarco at the University of South Florida.

The probe consists of an optical fiber whose tip is coated with antibodies that pick up bacteria in the food being tested. Researchers then add fluorescently tagged antibodies to the sample. These labeled antibodies stick to the bacteria on the probe. A laser pulse sent down the probe triggers fluorescent emissions that travel back up the fiber when bacteria are present. The probe, developed by Research International in Woodinville, Wash., and the Naval Research Laboratory, is three to four times more sensitive than other detection systems, DeMarco says. He has tested the instrument on ground beef and apple cider and is adapting it to sense Listeria and Salmonella, two other common food poisons.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Business Impact

How technology advances are changing the economy and providing new opportunities in many industries.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Premium.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look: exclusive early access to important stories, before they’re available to anyone else

    Insider Conversations: listen in on in-depth calls between our editors and today’s thought leaders

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.