The students of UC Davis of California have been busy this summer with a research project to create a device that will be able to detect flaws and rancidity in olive oil. The International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation (iGEM) holds a national competition where undergraduate students are given a kit of biological parts and are challenged to design and build biological systems that operate in living cells.
Based on UC Davis studies in the past that have shown that two-thirds of olive oil on the grocery store shelves are low quality and lack the health benefits of fresh extra virgin olive oil, the UC Davis iGEM team, in collaboration with the UC Davis Olive Center, were inspired to create a high tech device to test the quality of extra virgin olive oil. The electrochemical sensor may become a game changer in the industry. Although not on the market yet, the OliView sensor could be available to consumers within one to two years for about $60 – $80 dollars.
Over 270 schools from around the world will compete in the iGEM competition held in Boston, MA from October 3rd through November 3rd, 2014.
Interviews with the students and Dan Flynn, Executive Director of the UC Davis Olive Center, can be seen in this video from local news station KCRA 3.