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How much vitamin C is in an orange?

A new biosensors detects the exact number of vitamins in fruits and vegetables


How much vitamin C is in an orange? Thanks to a new biosensor being developed by German, Belgian and Dutch scientists, it is now possible to detect the exact number of vitamins in fruit and vegetables in real-time in the field.  

Such information can be vital for farmers and food producers, as it allows them to immediately adjust things like humidity to improve the nutritional quality of their crops. 

Kasper Eersels heads the European project called ‘EMR Food Screening’ which is developing the biosensor. He says the easy-to-use tech tool should be ready to go to market in around two years. 

EMR Food Screening: the project

The aim of Food Screening EMR is to strengthen the competitiveness of the euregional agrifood industry by supporting local SMEs in their transition from a traditional to a future-proof business model, focused on local, sustainable production of healthy crops.

The universities of Maastricht, Aachen, Hasselt and Liège will collaborate with Yookr BV, ZUMOlab GmbH, IMEC, BASF and Brightlands to catalyze the implementation of state-of-the-art practices in smart sensing, farming technology and building food and health claims into the workflow of local agrifood SMEs.

EMR Food Screening: the biosensor   

Normally, if you want to know how many vitamins are in the vegetable or in fruit, it takes at least days to have this measurement back because it goes to the lab, and then it has to be sent back. And now, you measure it with a sensor.

Within a minute, the biosensor can precisely measure vitamins contained in fruits and vegetables. The biosensor detects food vitamins through colour coding. Scientists at Maastricht University, partner of the project, have been developing the chemical – or receptor – part of the biosensor. This can determine the precise vitamin content of a piece of fruit.

Such information is, in fact, vital for farmers and food producers, as it enables them to adjust variables, like the amount of humidity for plants, to improve the nutritional quality of their crops.

See how it works in the video: 

Useful for the consumers, too

In addition to food producers, the tech should also allow consumers to know the precise nutritional quality of their food.

“One of the things that you want to know is what, how many nutrients do I have in my food? And you can walk into a supermarket and they say it’s healthy, but is it actually healthy? So if you have a sensor that can quickly say, ok, this is the amount of vitamin C that you have in it then is very beneficial,” says Bart van Grisven, Associate Professor and the Project Leader of Food Screening EMR. 

source: Euronews I EMR Food Screening I Smart Regions

cover image: Engin Akyurt via Unsplash


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