Bar codes have revolutionised everything from shopping to stock control, and with the advent of smart phones QR codes have allowed consumers to link to a wealth on interactive data about products. However, new technology developed in the US could offer an alternative solution.
DNATrax is a tasteless, odourless DNA-infused spray that can trace food and other objects back to their origins, acting like a tamper-proof and invisible bar code. First developed by Lawrence Livermore Laboratory for defensive research, the technology has been licensed to an affiliated start up company called DNATrek. It consists of a mixture of powdered sugar and DNA and has been approved as a safe food additive by the US Food and Drug Administration.
At the moment it is still being used for testing things like how particulates move in the environment, but DNATrek founder and CEO Anthony Zografos feels the applications are endless: “It’s shifting the paradigm. It uses this diversity that exists in nature to now encode other information, whether this is traceability or something else in the future. It doesn’t need to be visual anymore. It doesn’t need to be something that is scanned electronically.”
The material can be sprayed on to produce such as fruit or vegetables to create a biological marker containing traceability information about where and how it was grown, harvested and processed.