Fruits and vegetables infested with pesticides: this sensor that protects consumer health

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

Developed by scientists from 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 consists of identifying the presence of chemical elements via a metallic surface.

This technique would make it possible to easily 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 processes that are not very scalable, not very reproducible from one batch to another, not very stable and uniform”, explain the researchers in a dedicated article. to the description of their technique.

The technique of these Swedish scientists consists in fact of using a SERS nanosensor. Flame aerosol deposition has been used to rapidly fabricate SERS detection films. To test its effectiveness, small amounts of pesticides were placed on apples, 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 must be confirmed by larger scientific tests before being deployed on a larger scale.

This is not the first time that technology has been used in the service of food safety. In December 2021, the Taiwanese manufacturer Asus presented a robot able to help disinfect fruits and vegetables before cooking them by analyzing the quality of their rinsing water.

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

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