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High-Tech Produce

High-Tech Produce

Much like a security system that scans your retina or doors that unlock with voice activation, you, too, may soon be able to feel like you are a member of a secret spy initiative when you hit...er...the grocery store?

It turns out that those super smart scientists are concocting an invention that would allow you to wrap your produce in a bag made from what researchers are calling “edible optics.” These membranes from pure, edible silk would be just the beginning, experts say, of a system where light-diffracting holograms—like those related to credit cards—would come equipped with biological sensors that would signal if a food item is contaminated with salmonella or E. coli.
 
It all sounds very Matrix-like, but scientists say it may be just the ticket to preventing outbreaks like the recent serrano peppers salmonella scare. Silk is already used for stitches after surgery, and as opposed to its plastic bag predecessor, it is biodegradable, making it earth-friendly and a step toward healthy living. And many techies are catching on to the possible produce of the future, suggesting ideas for meat wrapped in E. coli-sensing materials and even edible silk underwear. We haven’t yet found a health benefit for that one, but we’ll let you know.
 
The invention still requires testing, but scientists are confident that supermarket shopping will only be the first stop for the edible optics. Experts say the silk sensor may also be able to identify environmental pollutants or sugar in the bloodstream of a diabetic.
 
We’re curious: What invention would you like to see make its way to your supermarket? [MSNBC]

Posted: 8/26/08