In the framework of a joint Newton Fund Project (“Fiber optic sensor for food safety applications”, 2018-2020) together with the group of Prof. Moh Yasin at Airlangga University (Surabaya, Indonesia) we are carrying out experiments to detect the presence of formalin in food using fiber optics sensors.
Formalin, is a solution of formaldehyde in water and is known to be highly toxic and cancerous for human beings. It is illegally added by rogue traders especially to fish and meat so that they can look fresh even when they are not anymore, hence causing a consistent threat to citizens health. Such disgraceful practice is common in developing countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh and Malaysia amongst others. While reliable chemical detection methods (like chromatography) exist, they require expensive equipment available only in well equipped scientific labs and long time of analysis. The recent advances of photonic science and technologies open up an opportunity for building sensors which are ideally compact and portable for measurements in the field, which can provide fast measurement results without lab treatment of the samples and that can be built at a reasonable price making them affordable to a vast users pool.