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Miniaturized wireless sensor enables real-time monitoring of food spoilage


Food spoilage results in food waste and food-borne diseases. Yet, standard laboratory tests to determine spoilage (mainly volatile biogenic amines) are not performed regularly by supply chain personnel or end customers. Here we developed a poly(styrene-co-maleic anhydride)-based, miniature (2 × 2 cm2) sensor for on-demand spoilage analysis via mobile phones. To demonstrate a real-life application, the wireless sensor was embedded into packaged chicken and beef; consecutive readings from meat samples using the sensor under various storage conditions enabled the monitoring of spoilage. While samples stored at room temperature showed an almost 700% change in sensor response on the third day, those stored in the freezer resulted in an insignificant change in sensor output. The proposed low-cost, miniature wireless sensor nodes can be integrated into packaged foods, helping consumers and suppliers detect spoilage of protein-rich foods on demand, and ultimately preventing food waste and food-borne diseases.

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Fig. 1: Summary of the concept.
Fig. 2: Polymer and sensor characterization.
Fig. 3: Monitoring packaged meats.
Fig. 4: Sensor validation.
Fig. 5: Device calibration.

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Data availability

All data are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.


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E.I. acknowledges support through the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) 3501 (grant no. 121Z184) and 1512 (grant no. 2210822) programmes. E.Y.O. is supported by TUBITAK through the 3501 (grant no. 121Z184) programme. L.B. acknowledges TUBITAK 2232 (grant no. 118C295) and the European Research Council (grant no. 101043119). H.M. acknowledges support through a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship (grant no. 101068646). We acknowledge Koç University Surface Science and Technology Center (KUYTAM) and Koç University Nanofabrication and Nanocharacterization Center (n2STAR) for access to the infrastructure.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



E.I. was the main contributor to this work and performed all experiments for the synthesis of the polymer, characterization of the polymer, design of the devices, characterization of the devices, data analysis and interpretation, and drafting of the article. H.M. integrated the NFC chip to the sensor and characterized the wireless communication. Ç.D. performed the NMR experiments and contributed to the NMR data interpretation. F.M. fabricated the IDEs and antenna on PCB. E.Y.O. performed the titration experiments for polymer characterization. C.C. developed a user-friendly mobile application. H.C.K. contributed to the drafting and revision of the article. I.Y. and E.Y. participated in the synthesis and structural characterization of the polymer. I.Y. and E.Y. also contributed to the drafting and revision of the article. L.B. contributed to the development of the sensor, the characterization and fabrication of the device, data interpretation, and the drafting and revision of the article.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Emin Istif or Levent Beker.

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Competing interests

E.I., L.B., I.Y. and E.Y. are inventors on a patent application (Koç University, Turkey, PCT/TR2022/051105) based on the sensor technology presented in this manuscript. All other authors declare no competing interests.

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Nature Food thanks Greg Qiao, Rona Chandrawati and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–38 and Tables 1 and 2.

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Supplementary Video 1

Demonstration of the operation of the proposed sensor in the presence of spoiled and fresh chicken.

Supplementary Video 2

Immediate change of sensor capacitance in the presence of ammonia.

Supplementary Video 3

Demonstration of the dedicated mobile phone application for the device.

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Istif, E., Mirzajani, H., Dağ, Ç. et al. Miniaturized wireless sensor enables real-time monitoring of food spoilage. Nat Food 4, 427–436 (2023).

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