Sentinel Wraps: Real-Time Monitoring of Food Contamination by Printing DNAzyme Probes on Food Packaging
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Here, we report the development of a transparent, durable, and flexible sensing surface that generates a fluorescence signal in the presence of a specific target bacterium. This material can be used in packaging, and it is capable of monitoring microbial contamination in various types of food products in real time without having to remove the sample or the sensor from the package. The sensor was fabricated by covalently attaching picoliter-sized microarrays of an E. coli-specific RNA-cleaving fluorogenic DNAzyme probe (RFD-EC1) to a thin, flexible, and transparent cyclo-olefin polymer (COP) film. Our experimental results demonstrate that the developed (RFD-EC1)-COP surface is specific, stable for at least 14 days under various pH conditions (pH 3-9), and can detect E. coli in meat and apple juice at concentrations as low as 103 CFU/mL. Furthermore, we demonstrate that our sensor is capable of detecting bacteria while still attached to the food package, which eliminates the need to manipulate the sample. The developed biosensors are stable for at least the shelf life of perishable packaged food products and provide a packaging solution for real-time monitoring of pathogens. These sensors hold the potential to make a significant contribution to the ongoing efforts to mitigate the negative public-health-related impacts of food-borne illnesses.
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