Military tech may aid shoppers to spot food tampered with

China Daily
Yao Jianing

Military technology could soon enable civilians to spot when food has been tampered with, researchers in Tianjin said on Wednesday.

Spectral imaging technology, in an experiment, displayed fake green leaves in blue on the screen and normal ones in white.

The developer of the technology-Tianjin Jinhang Research Institute of Technical Physics which is affiliated to China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp-says potential applications of the technology include inspecting illegally colored oranges and inquiring about the expiry date of milk powder, jobs which are currently done by professional agencies with sophisticated methods.

"Within two years, we will put the spectral imaging function in smartphones at a cost below 100 yuan ($14.53)," said Liu Shuyang, leader of the spectrum analysis group at the institute.

The images will be captured by a standard camera on the phone and a large set of information will be processed by a special chip.

The spectral imaging technique has already been used in environmental monitoring, agriculture and medicine identification.

"I always check the production date by scanning the barcode, but I still have concerns. This technology may make my life more convenient," said Wang Shulan, a 60-year-old woman shopper.

The technology could create a market worth around 100 billion yuan, said Wang Yanping, a professor at the College of Food Engineering and Biotechnology of Tianjin University of Science & Technology.

Zhang Jian, Party chief of the research institute, said that the integration of civilian and military technology, which is a national strategy, has experienced ups and downs, but has been progressing well in recent years.

"It is very painful process for us to shift the way of thinking from the military side to the market side, so we are looking forward to cooperating with more enterprises," said Zhang.

The total output value of the institute stood at 1.5 billion yuan last year.

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