Lexington-Based Company Is Creating Biosensors for Food Safety

Safe Food Scientific's first product can tell you if your beef is still edible.

The CDC estimates that food borne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.

That’s why Lexington-based company, Safe Food Scientific, has developed a product that lets you know—in real time—whether or not the beef in your refrigerator is still fresh enough to eat.

The company calls their first product a “bio-sensor.” It’s just a little piece of paper that turns color when meat is bad by recognizing the gas given off by bacteria in beef when it multiplies. Safe Food’s CEO, Don McAlister, says that the sensor provides a visual indication when the meat has excessive bacteria levels.

It started as many ideas do, McAlister says, at an argument over dinner. “A scientist that works with us and his wife were debating whether a certain article of meat could be cooked and eaten,” he says. “They were getting ready for dinner and deciding whether or not the beef that had been in the fridge for a couple of days was good enough to cook. He said, ‘Lets cook it!’ but his wife said, ‘No.’ That’s when he decided to take matters into his own hands and figure it out scientifically.”

Right now, the Beef-Fresh Check Sensor, is on Indiegogo offering a 10-pack for $15. McAlister says that the plan is to use the technology (which, he says, they won’t patent because they don’t want to give away their secrets) to develop sensors for pork and chicken, with the hopes of eventually bringing it to retail.

“I’m a single father of two young boys, and I worry about what I feed them,” McAlister says. “So this is personal, it hits home. As challenging as food testing is in the U.S., globally it’s a critical interest. We have interest from other countries like South Africa and places in Europe. It’s zero power required and it gives an accurate read.”

To support the Indiegogo campaign and get your own sensors, click here.