Researcher testing food in lab

MIT’s new technology offers cheaper, faster food testing

In *All, Food Security by AgIsAmerica

Everyone knows the 5-second rule: “Oh, don’t worry about it, 5-second rule!” was phrase commonly tossed around during our childhood, even by adults. While it may have no basis in fact, it’s a pretty common excuse to pick up the odd fallen bite.

In fact, MIT researchers have been working on the ultimate riposte to the 5-second rule for several years, and at long last it’s nearly ready to hit the shelves. The MIT spinout, called Xibus Systems, is aiming to get accessible and affordable food contaminant sensors into the hands of both food producers and food consumers. Inspired by the regularity of safety-mandated food recalls, the team have worked since 2015 to create what they call the Janus emulsion. These little miracle drops are color coded and contain chemicals that are designed to bond incredibly quickly to harmful bacteria, like Salmonella. If the drops begin binding to something dangerous when applied to your food, they show one color, and if no binding occurs, they exhibit another. Cheap to produce in quantity, effective, and safe to use, the project has already received numerous grants and the team is hopeful to move forward with a product release in the next few years. They’ve even started to develop an app!

While musing about its utility for disproving the 5-second rule might be fun, the main rationale for this product is to keep people safe. MIT’s research team is right: the market needs an easily accessible way for regular people and corporations alike to make sure their foods are safe for consumption. The next time you try to claim your dropped food is just fine, you may be able to give it a Janus bath. You might be surprised at what you find!

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