Photo: Peter Dazeley (Photographer’s Choice/Getty)

Most of us worry about headlines that announce E. coli outbreaks in everything from lettuce to soy nut butter, or salmonella warnings about chicken salad or alfalfa sprouts. But help may be on the way: MedicalNewsToday reports that ‚Äúscientists at McMaster University in Canada have developed a harmless see-through patch that could be used in food packaging to monitor contamination by bacteria without having to unwrap the product.‚ÄĚ The patch would send out a signal to be picked up by ‚Äúa simple device or even a smartphone‚Ķ and tell you if the food inside the packaging is safe to eat.‚ÄĚ The monitor was able to discern E. coli and salmonella (bacteria that can occur in raw or undercooked food) in small amounts in apple juice and meat.

MedicalNewsToday describes the patch thusly: ‚ÄúThe biosensing material described in the new study is made of tiny genetic probes attached to a ‚Äėthin, flexible, and transparent‚Äô polymer film. The probes contain DNA molecules that are specific to the target bacteria.‚ÄĚ One of the study scientists, Tohid F. Didar, told MNT that the patch would be easy to mass-produce because ‚Äúthe DNA molecules can be printed onto the film,‚ÄĚ so that ‚Äúa food manufacturer could easily incorporate this into its production process.‚ÄĚ Sounds like this patch could be a lot more effective than those seemingly random expired-by dates currently posted on food.