Innovation That Matters

Nanosensor | Photo source VeeDunn on Flickr

Nanosensor sniffs out airborne food pathogens

Sport & Fitness

A new sensor can detect food-borne illnesses in a matter of hours, helping to contain outbreaks before they become widespread and potentially deadly.

Outbreaks of illness caused by food distribution may soon be a thing of the past thanks to OlfaGuard’s nanotechnology-based E-nose. Founded by marine biologist Pierre Salameh with technology based on Professor Hossam Haick’s electronic nose, the company is focused on helping manufacturers and producers speed up detection of pathogens in order to prevent widespread infection. Salmonella and E-Coli are two of the predominant causes of food-borne illness. Traditional methods of testing for potential outbreaks take up to three days for results and involve lab fees and investment in expensive microchip technology.

The OlfaGuard sensor unit is currently at the research and development stage with results at 94 percent accuracy and available in six hours. The team is working to reduce that time to provide near-instant results. Various business models (ranging from sales of single-use test units to subscriptions for specific pathogen detectors) are being considered to cover the different requirements of the food supply chain, including restaurants, retailers, transportation companies and factories.

With populations increasingly concentrated in high-density urban areas, preventing the spread of disease is an essential public health concern. Solutions are many and varied and include individual wearable air purifiers and mosquito-trap billboards that could help fight the spread of the Zika virus by drawing in and trapping mosquitos. How could new methods of communication be used to help smart cities better contain the spread of infections?




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