Most of us are used to putting food to the sniff test, and for the most part, our senses will let us know if food is unsafe to eat. However, some of the potentially poisonous compounds found in spoiled meat aren't detectable by the human nose, because they're odorless (at least to us), so it's possible for something to pass the sniff test and still give us food poisoning. And while food poisoning may be just an uncomfortable inconvenience for some people, for others it could be a matter of life and death.
But a new portable gadget may make identifying potentially hazardous foods much easier, as it will sniff the food for you and determine if there's a food poisoning risk, so you don't have to be the guinea pig. And it could not only protect us from food-related illnesses, it could also help to cut down on food waste by verifying if an item is still OK to eat, so we don't toss it out.
The PERES device, which works in conjunction with a smartphone and tablet app (iOS and Android), uses four different types of sensors to scan the food item in question (without having to actually come in contact with it) and measures the levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) near the item. The device then takes the temperature and humidity of the food into consideration and adjust the readings for accuracy using that data.
"PERES is the world’s first portable "electronic nose" – a unique and innovative device and mobile application which enables users to determine the quality and freshness of pork, beef, chicken and fish:
It is designed to detect:
- whether a product is fresh
- whether it is hazardous to health
- whether there is a risk of food poisoning
- whether it has been left unrefrigerated for some time
Here's a little bit of the science behind the device:
PERES is currently in a crowdfunding phase with a campaign on Indiegogo, where early bird backers at the $120 level will receive one of the devices for their contribution (estimated retail price after launch is $150), or for those contributing $220 will get two devices, plus a donation to the charity Action Against Hunger and a "legendary" PERES chef's hat and apron set (so you can represent while sniffing with your new electronic nose, I guess).