It might soon be possible for individuals who become ill to identify whether their symptoms were caused by food poisoning with a simple smartphone accessory. Food scientists at UMass Amherst have developed a way to examine samples of potentially contaminated food with a smartphone app that uses a $30 microscope attachment.
Using a Microscope Attachment to Test Samples for Harmful Bacteria
The attachment uses a chemical-coated chip that binds to the harmful bacteria present in water samples collected after rinsing food believed to be contaminated. Bacteria travels from the food to the water via molecules, then becomes stuck to the chemical chip, where it can be examined with the microscope. The smartphone’s screen shows the microscope’s display.
Making Testing Accessible can Help to Prevent Food Poisoning
By making it possible for anybody to test food for contamination with a smartphone, future outbreaks can potentially be identified and contaminated sooner than they are typically handled today. Using the app and attachment, an individual can determine whether his or her food is contaminated within 24 hours of taking the initial sample. 24 hours is how long it took for the samples to become large enough for the UMass researchers to accurately study. Currently, it can take a few weeks for harmful bacteria to be concretely identified in a sample.
This type of testing can also help consumers take a more active role in preventing food poisoning, managing their own health, and helping others to avoid illness. Local health departments and larger agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) depend on data collected from individuals to trace food poisoning outbreaks. The more data they have about a specific outbreak, the more easily and effectively these groups can determine an outbreak’s cause and work to prevent it from spreading.
This type of consumer-level technology is still years from reaching the market, though. In its current state, the testing kit cannot determine whether bacteria is pathogenic or not, just whether it is present in a given sample. Until it is possible to identify whether the bacteria in a sample is harmful or not, this technology cannot be used to prevent food poisoning outbreaks. Even in its current state, it is a step closer to giving consumers a new tool for keeping themselves healthy.
Work with an Experienced Fox River Grove Food Poisoning Attorney
If you experience financial damages related to any type of foodborne illness that could have been prevented if a food retailer had taken greater care to contain an outbreak, you have the right to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for your food poisoning damages. Contact our team of experienced food poisoning lawyers at Newland & Newland, LLP today to set up your initial consultation with us to discuss your case in greater detail. We serve clients in the Arlington Heights, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Libertyville, Mundelein, Buffalo Grove, Schaumburg, Elk Grove, and Itasca areas.
(image courtesy of Fabian Grohs)