Pesticide-infested fruits and vegetables: this sensor that protects the health of consumers

Pesticide-infested fruits and vegetables: this sensor that protects the health of consumers

Many of the fruits and vegetables we eat are infested with pesticide residues. To better identify the presence of these substances in food, Swedish researchers have developed an inexpensive and reproducible mini-sensor.

Developed by scientists at the Karolinska Institute (Sweden), this nano-sensor is inspired by a method that has existed since the 1970s: surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). A somewhat technical term for a process that involves identifying the presence of chemical elements via a metal surface.

This technique would make it easier to detect the presence of pesticides in fruits and vegetables. A quick and effective way to protect human health from these harmful substances, but also to reduce the costs of a laborious and complicated process to set up, precisely in part because of its price.

In less than five minutes

“The use of SERS sensors in practical applications is hampered by high manufacturing costs due to poorly scalable, batch-to-batch, unstable, and uniform processes,” the researchers say. in an article devoted to the description of their technique.

The technique of these Swedish scientists is actually to use a SERS nanosensor. Flame aerosol deposition was used to rapidly fabricate SERS detection films. To test its effectiveness, small amounts of pesticides were placed on apples and then collected in the laboratory before passing under the rays of the nanosensor.

Even with small amounts, the sensor developed by the Karolinska Institute was able to identify the presence of pesticide in less than five minutes. However, the effectiveness of this tool needs to be confirmed by larger scientific tests before it can be deployed on a larger scale.

This is not the first time the technology has been put at the service of food security. In December 2021, Taiwanese manufacturer Asus introduced a robot capable of helping to disinfect fruits and vegetables before cooking by analyzing the quality of their rinsing water.

Named “Asus PureGo”, the device activates automatically when immersed in water. If the module indicator is displayed in red or orange, your fruits or vegetables should still be washed. When the light turns green, you can eat them!

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