WASHINGTON, April 16 (UPI) — A new instrument can quickly and precisely sniff minute amounts of poultry spoilage, officials at the U.S. government’s measurement standards laboratory said.
The new technique, developed by National Institute of Standards and Technology research chemists Tom Bruno and Tara Lovestead, can sniff out trace amounts of low-volatility compounds present early in the decay process, the U.S. Commerce Department agency said.
Analyzing such low-volatility compounds used to require long collection times to get a big enough sample for testing and identification, the agency said.
But the new technique follows a method very much like what Mom’s trusty nose uses — it samples the “headspace,” or the air above the spoiling chicken.
A short aluminum-coated tube cooled to a very low temperature gathers the low-volatility chemicals to its surface in a technique called cryoadsorption.
Bruno and Lovestead separated and identified six potential chemical markers that could be used to indicate poultry spoilage before it becomes unhealthy.
Those markers were found in the air above spoiled chicken breasts, maintained in their original retail packaging and kept at room temperature for two weeks.
Considering a typical American eats nearly 84 pounds of chicken a year, “this improved testing method for spoilage could have significant health implications,” the agency said.
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