Ovens & Ranges

BioSensor Labs Asks: Is Your Food Safe?

Test meat and dairy for antibiotics, right in your own kitchen.

The BioSensor Labs' Penguin, for testing antibiotic levels in meat and dairy. Credit:

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We saw a sizable flock of fledgling startups at CE Week 2014, but one stood out a little more than the rest. BioSensor Lab wants to put incredibly sophisticated medical testing on your kitchen counter. Food tests that would usually require heaps of money and a laboratory might soon be headed to a small, plastic, vaguely penguin-shaped gizmo for your countertop.

We all know that choosing quality food can be difficult for a family, and misleading food labels aren't helping. Just a few years ago, according to the Wall Street Journal, 80% of antibiotics sold by weight in this country were used not for humans, but for livestock. The Journal also notes that there are roughly 685 of these FDA-approved drugs that farmers use to safeguard, treat, and fatten animals with.

Many question how safe this is for human consumption, obviously. BioSensor Lab wants to grant concerned parents the ability to check meat for antibiotic levels themselves. Using a disposable tray, users would drip fluid from meat into a cartridge in the BioSensor Penguin. This cartridge has a special nano porous material inside, which greatly increases the surface area used for testing.

After two minutes, a screen on the Penguin’s belly displays how many parts per million of antibiotics are in the meat. A proposed app would help you track which brands have the lowest amounts, and would also tally up your family’s cumulative antibiotic intake.

BioSensor isn’t stopping there. CEO Myounghoon Jang told us that in future versions, you’ll be able to test for other harmful materials, like pesticides. As it’s designed, the Penguin works with meat and dairy, but maybe someday, you’ll be able to test your family’s other foods for potentially harmful chemicals. If BioSensor has its way, the Penguin will be available later this year for around $300, with the requisite disposable cartridges costing extra.

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