You are what you eat, but let’s be honest, sometimes there’s a big question mark hanging over the overall safety of what you’re actually putting in your mouth.
Well for all you weary diners out there, here’s the good news, internet search giant Baidu are in the process of developing a pair of smart chopsticks that they claim allows consumers to gauge if the food on their plate is safe to eat or not.
Chinese diners’ stomach have been turned quite a lot recently by a long and sorry saga of food scandals which would make even the most hardened of stomach, numb of gullet, and philistine of taste, turn green and vomit profusely.
From recycled cooking oil, fox meat and the sort of chemicals that would look out of place in a science lab, let alone a kitchen, China has been served a raw, not to mention toxic, deal when it comes to food, glorious food.
Yet the boffins at Baidu are busy trying to rectify that. Funnily enough, smart chopsticks as a concept were born during an April Fool’s Day video stunt released by the company, and they had no serious intention of pursuing the technology.
Yet such was the reaction and excitement, both internally and externally, generated by the smart chopsticks, Baidu realized they were on to something big.
The science behind the smart chopsticks is no joke. In the latest video released by Baidu, a user is shown placing the smart chopsticks in three different cups of cooking oil.
Tiny sensors embedded in the electronic chopsticks detect the temperature of the oil and judge if it is fit for consumption. The findings are then displayed on a smartphone app.
The chopsticks indicate how fresh the cooking oil is by flashing red if it contains a higher than 25 percent level of TPMs.
Yahoo! News reported the poor food safety is a major concern in China. Specifically the melamine scandal of 2008, which saw the industrial chemical kill six children and make 300,000 people ill after it was added to dairy products.
Only last year, the country’s health authorities initiated a crackdown on ‘gutter oil’ – illegal cooking oil, which consists of recycling waste oil or dredging up leftovers from restaurants and marketing it as new.
Since the clampdown on ‘gutter oil,’ over 100 people have been arrested and 20 imprisoned – two of them for life.
With no release date or price yet set on the smart chopsticks, it’s not sure if the technology will go into commercial production or if Baidu will keep them as a limited run of prototypes.
Although in theory the smart chopsticks are capable of saving lives, one user on Chinese social media perhaps said it best when he made the wisecrack,
“If I carried these chopsticks around with me everywhere, I think I’d die of hunger.”