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Handheld Pesticide Residue Detector to Secure Food Safety

CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree: Handheld Pesticide Residue Detector

ITRI’s Handheld Pesticide Residue Detector.

ITRI’s Handheld Pesticide Residue Detector, a CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree, is a portable device that can determine whether pesticide residues are within a safe range when washing fruits or vegetables. It is a breakthrough in pesticide detection for consumer use, because, until now, pesticide detection was available only through commercial laboratories.

The Handheld Pesticide Residue Detector is easy to operate and read. The user pushes one button to activate the detector, and places the detector in water with the fruits or vegetables. The detector displays lights on the wireless charger indicating results. A red flashing light indicates danger, meaning further washing is needed; a yellow flashing light displays while washing is in progress; and a green flashing light signals that washing is complete.

The Handheld Pesticide Residue Detector includes patented technology innovations that make the portable, affordable, real-time pesticide residue detector possible. It employs a “Fabry-Perot Detection Spectrum System” and a “Dynamic Degradative Algorithm.”

  • Fabry-Perot Detection Spectrum System
    ITRI designed a chip based on the Fabry-Perot spectrum filter, covering multispectral absorption frequency bands of commonly used pesticides, to calculate key pesticide concentrations. Conventional optical grating for beam splitting often requires matching linear array light sensors, such as charge-coupled devices (CCDs) or contact image sensors (CISs), accompanied by higher-cost reading circuits and modules. However, the Fabry-Perot device for the conduction of beam splitting requires only one light sensor (e.g. a photodiode sensor). This not only significantly reduces system size but also decreases production cost, while enhancing the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of light signals. Moreover, the Fabry-Perot component is more durable against vibration or collision than conventional systems.
  • Dynamic Degradative Algorithm
    The content of the pesticide varies based on washing time for different fruits and vegetables. Therefore, ITRI’s dynamic degradative algorithm was developed for real-time monitoring of the pesticide washing process. The system automatically decides whether the pesticide concentration level falls within the safety range. This algorithm effectively detects interfering sources during washing, such as water from different sources, or the presence of a fruit and vegetable cleanser (e.g. baking soda); making it easy to introduce into various household scenarios.

Currently ITRI’s Handheld Pesticide Residue Detector can detect eight washable pesticides from the top 10 pesticide ranking lists in the U.S. and China. If used in tandem with specialized fruit and vegetable cleansers, it can also detect fat-soluble pesticides up to a 0.5 parts-per-million (ppm) detection limit.

In sum, the development of this device offers a solution to improving food safety. With this device, users can clearly know in real time whether their washing is enough to clean the fruits and vegetables and no longer need to worry about consuming food that contains excessive pesticide residues.