April 15, 2010
GAITHERSBURG, Md.Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have designed an instrument that quickly and precisely sniffs trace amounts of chemical compounds that indicate poultry spoilage without damaging the product itself. The process can detect minute amounts of spoilage compounds and can be used by suppliers during all stages of processing, transport and storage.
The technique relies on identifying the much more difficult to detect trace amounts of low volatility compounds that are present early in the decay process. The key to detecting minute levels of the low volatility compounds produced when chicken spoils is a new method of sampling the headspace the air above a test sample. Researchers devised a technique using a short alumina-coated tube cooled to very low temperatures to promote the adsorption of low-volatility chemicals, a technique called cryoadsorption. Among other advantages, the sampling method is robust and flexible in terms of where and how it can be used, an important feature for the food industry.
Researchers 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.
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