May. 24, 2017
The Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan (ITRI) has developed a device that it said can detect the level of pesticides on fruits and vegetables as they are being washed, and it hopes the device can hit the market next year.
Chu Chun-hsun, director of the ITRI's Smart Microsystems Technology Center, described the new device as the world's first easy-to-use pesticide detector in a project supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
The center is now discussing a transfer of the technology to companies and hopes it can be available commercially sometime next year. The center estimated the device will cost between US$100 and US$150.
Chu said the inspiration for the device came from optical detection methods commonly used in biomedical research, and researchers decided to see what happened if the process was applied to food.
Relying on the unique wavelength absorption pattern of different chemicals, the device preforms spectral analysis to get the water soluble chemicals to "reveal themselves," Chu explained.
An ITRI staffer displayed how the device, which weighs about 200 grams, is used, putting it in a bowl of water with the vegetables to be tested and waiting for the light on the wireless charger to either flash green, yellow or red.
The light, which indicates whether there are pesticides present and at what level, gives a result in a matter of seconds.
If the light on the device is red, it means the pesticide level is much higher than the standard allowed, indicating that the vegetables need to be cleaned better.
A yellow light means a slightly higher amount of pesticide than the maximum amount allowed, and a green light signals that no pesticides or only a minimal amount are present.