Researchers create a color-changing portable food deterioration sensor.

Biogenic amines (BAs) are a group of low-molecular-weight organic nitrogen compounds that are released when foods like fish, meat, and cheese break down. While the body uses BAs in small amounts for things like hormone synthesis, eating a lot of BAs from spoiled food can be bad for your health.

As a result, it’s critical to find BAs during food distribution and storage. This inspired a group of researchers, including Associate Professor of Biomaterials Science at Pusan National University, Prof. Sungbaek Seo, to create a portable molecular sensor that changes color to quickly identify BAs.

Prof. Seo writes, “The quick and simple monitoring of deleterious BAs released from spoiled foods could alert us, prevent consumption of spoiled meat, maintain food quality, and establish further effective conditions for food storage and distribution in the logistic chain.”

“The portable beads might be used on-site to check food quality during storage and the logistics chain. Furthermore, the beads could be used to determine whether ideal food storage and distribution conditions have been maintained “

Prof. Sungbaek Seo, Associate Professor of Biomaterials Science at Pusan National University,

In a recent article that was published in Food Chemistry, the researchers went into great detail about this novel development. In order to create this novel sensor, the team combined an alginate solution that produced a three-dimensional porous structure with a large surface area with the distinct color-changing property of polydiacetylene (PDA)-based hydrogel beads upon binding with BAs.

The specialists showed that the newly created sensor dots effectively recognize biogenic amines like cadaverine and propylamine both in arrangement and fume structures through particular changes in color from blue to red. The group additionally used the sensor to test the decay of pork meat left at room temperature for 4 days. By displaying a distinct color shift, they demonstrated that the sensor beads were able to effectively track the gradual deterioration over time.

The sensor does not require complicated analytical equipment or skilled personnel and is made of lightweight, portable beads. Through a colorimetric change in the beads from blue to red, it enables rapid and seamless visual detection. “The portable beads could be used on sites for monitoring whether the food quality is okay during storage and the logistic chain,” observes Prof. Seo. Additionally, the beads could be used to determine whether ideal conditions for food distribution and storage are preserved.”

Together, this portable colorimetric sensor based on a PDA would make it easier to keep an eye on food spoilage throughout its storage and distribution and prevent health risks from eating BAs.

More information: Soojin Jang et al, Polydiacetylene-based hydrogel beads as colorimetric sensors for the detection of biogenic amines in spoiled meat, Food Chemistry (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2022.134317

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