Food safety is one of the most serious concerns. As manual testing of every jar or bottle isn’t feasible, researchers at MIT have found a way to check the contamination of food using RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) tags. With this technology, they can check many items instantly, and from a distance.
The RFID system uses a tiny antenna embedded in a sticker or label that is supplied by radio waves at a particular frequency. When the RFID tag receives a signalof 950 MHz frequency sent by a transceiver, it re-transmits a slightly different signal identifying itself. It is interesting to devise a tech that allows the Items to announce themselves. Apart from the actual information-bearing data, the return signal isinfluenced by the actual contents inside the jars. It is because the radiosignals have to pass through the food item. For instance, one jar full of pizza sauce and another full of jalapenos would generate different signal profiles. In fact, safe to consume food and contaminated one will also have different signal behavior. An untouched jar of baby food would produce different signal profile compared with one contaminated with melamine.
“It’s almost like we have transformed cheap RFIDs into tiny radio frequency spectroscopes,” said FadelAdib, co-author of the research paper detailing the new system. The system, called RFIQ is right now capable of distinguishing between pure and melamine-contaminated baby food. The future goal of the researchers is to apply it to many other products.