A paper co-authored by ECE Florida faculty and Ph.D. students has won First Best Paper Award at the 2019 IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine (CEM) Awards. “Eat, but Verify: Low-Cost Portable Devices for Food Safety Analysis” was authored by ECE Florida faculty members Dr. Swarup Bhunia and Dr. Soumyajit Mandal, along with ECE Ph.D. students Shubhra Deb Paul and Naren Vikram Raj Masna. Cheng Chen, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering and computer science at Case Western Reserve University, was also a co-author.
The paper aims to tackle the problem of food fraud—adulterated and counterfeit food products. It proposes a portable, economical, and noninvasive device that analyzes a variety of solid food products using a novel method called nuclear quadrupole resonance (NQR) spectroscopy. The new methodology offers a quantitative, specific, and low-cost analytical technique to analyze the chemical composition of the specific food item under test. The research team has integrated this detection technology into a portable form-factor, thus allowing it to be easily deployed throughout the food supply chain.
As the paper explains,
Fraudulent food products are often the result of opportunities taken by willful offenders who mislabel, falsify, and/or adulterate for economic gains. In some cases, the contents of a packaged food item may not match its label. In other cases, the labeling may be correct while the product itself is counterfeit. Thus, in today’s market where most food items are industrially packaged prior to sale, it is important to prioritize the consumers’ right to authentic and safe food products. The solution to this challenge is not to use expensive security measures that increase the final price, but to develop economical and portable food safety, quality assurance, and authentication devices for use at all stages of a food product life cycle—from production to consumption. Such devices would be a gamechanger in the field of food safety.
For Ph.D. student and co-author Naran Vikram Raj Masna, attending the conference in Las Vegas and winning the best paper award was a great experience. He noted,
Especially, I am very excited about the innovations in smart healthcare, 5G technology applications, digital paper technology, and Internet of things applications. One of the highlights was a panel with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. Being among such prolific members of the academic community inspired me to do work harder and raise my standards.