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Smart Package: Pathogen-alerting bar code

The ‘Smart Package of the Month,’ as selected by IDTechEx, is the Food Sentinel, an active bar code that detects food spoilage pathogens.

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The Food Sentinel System was developed by SIRA Technologies, a Pasadena, CA-based consortium of biotech companies, with research support from Louisiana State University Agricultural Center’s Department of Science.

The Food Sentinel System offers packagers and consumers a way to screen products susceptible to spoilage from the time it is packaged to the time of consumption. Parts of the product bar code are used as test indicators, therefore, at any point in the supply chain spoiled food can be removed and destroyed because the bar code becomes inactive and will not scan.

Its usefulness in the food industry is greater than conventional monitoring by random sampling because it continuously monitors microbial presence.

Uses proven technology

The sensor uses immunochemical technology that is well established by LSU research. The detection system can be optimized to detect potentially harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E.coli or Listeria. Contamination can be detected at a number of points including production plants, transport, food service, and at retail.

A membrane impregnated with antibodies engineered for the selected pathogens is integrated into the bar code itself. If present, the organism attaches to the antibody, which produces a blocking bar that renders the bar code unreadable. Or another indicator symbol can appear, as desired. The Food Sentinel System employs an accumulative effect and may be calibrated for target levels of concern.

According to smart packaging consultancy IDTechEx, this system is a breakthrough in consumer safety and will be useful in combating bioterrorism. BioVigilance is a separate SIRA company creating systems to protect against terrorist attacks.

For more see the IDTechEx special report on “Food and Animal Traceability Forecasts, Needs, Best Practice,” at the Web site, below.

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