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Graphene Biosensor Detects Meat Freshness With Speed and Accuracy

One of the most important factors in determining the safety and quality of animal meat is its freshness. Modern technology makes it possible to preserve food for long periods, so meat can be shipped around the world and eaten long after an animal passes away.

Graphene Biosensor Detects Meat Freshness With Speed and Accuracy
Biosensor determines meat freshness by detecting HXA in a solution sample derived from the meat. Image Credit: Ngo Thi Hong Le

Effective age-appropriate interventions are becoming more and more necessary as the global rate of meat consumption rises.

Even though technological advancements preserve meat for as long as possible, some aging processes cannot be stopped. Cells get their energy from the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is created during breathing.

The synthesis of ATP stops when an animal stops breathing, and the molecules that are still there break down into acid, reducing safety and flavor initially. In this transition, xanthine and hypoxanthine (HXA) are the intermediary phases. Evaluating how common they are in meat suggests how fresh it is.

Researchers from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, VNU University of Science, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, and the Russian Academy of Sciences created a biosensor in AIP Advances, published by AIP Publishing, that measures HXA by modifying graphene electrodes with zinc oxide nanoparticles. The team used pork meat to demonstrate the effectiveness of the sensor. 

While numerous HXA sensing techniques are available, they can be expensive, time-consuming, and require specialized knowledge.

In comparison to modern food-testing methods, like high-performance liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, atomic and molecular spectroscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, biosensors like our sensor offer superior advantages in time, portability, high sensitivity, and selectivity.

Ngo Thi Hong Le, Study Author, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology

A pulsed laser is used to transform a polyimide film, which is used to create the sensor, into porous graphene. The additional zinc oxide nanoparticles attract the HXA molecules to the electrode surface. The electrode's voltage spikes due to HXA oxidizing and transferring its electrons to the electrode. HXA content can be easily determined thanks to the linear relationship between HXA and voltage increase.

Solutions containing known amounts of HXA were tested by the researchers to evaluate the sensor’s performance. Following the exceptional performance, the researchers used supermarket-bought pork tenderloins to gauge the biosensor’s usefulness. The sensor demonstrated a low detection limit, a good detection range, and an accuracy of over 98 %.

In Vietnam, pork is the most consumed meat. Therefore, pork quality monitoring is one of the important requirements in the food industry in our country, which is why we prioritized it.

Ngo Thi Hong Le, Study Author, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology

This biosensor can evaluate any meat product, not just pork.

Journal Reference:

Le, H. T. N., et al. (2024) Non-enzymatic electrochemical sensor based on ZnO nanoparticles/porous graphene for the detection of hypoxanthine in pork meat. AIP Advances.


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