A phase-fluorometric oxygen sensor system has been developed, which allows non-destructive measurement of residual oxygen levels in sealed containers such as packaged foods. It operates with disposable solid-state sensors incorporated in each pack, and a portable detector which interrogates with the sensors through a (semi)transparent packaging material. The system has been optimized for packaging applications and validated in small and medium scale trials with different types of food, including MAP hams, cheese, convenience foods, smoked fish, bakery. It has demonstrated high efficiency in monitoring package integrity, oxygen profiles in packs, performance of packaging process and many other research and quality control tasks, allowing control of 100% of packs. The low-cost batch-calibrated sensors have demonstrated reliability, safety, stability including direct contact with food, high efficiency in the low oxygen range.
Another system, which also employs the fluorescence-based oxygen sensing approach, provides rapid assessment of microbial contamination (total viable counts) in complex samples such as food homogenates, industrial waste, environmental samples, etc. It uses soluble oxygen-sensitive probes, standard microtitter plates and fluorescence measurements on conventional plate reader to monitor growth of aerobic bacteria in small test samples (e.g. food homogenates) via their oxygen respiration. The assay provides high sample through put, miniaturization, speed, and can serve as alternative to the established methods such as agar plate colony counts and turbidimetry.