Fridges that can tell you if your food is off by using lasers to scan for bacteria could soon be available, scientists say.

The technology could potentially prevent food poisoning and reduce the 500,000 cases of salmonella in the UK alone each year.

The device, which could be fitted to your fridge, was developed by physicists at the Korea Advanced Institutes of Science and Technology, and involves using beams of light to scan the food inside.

It works because when laser beam hits biological tissue such as meat it is scattered through the material, causing the light to disperse and creating a random pattern known as "laser speckle".

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But the bacteria on the surface of food changes the speckle by causing scattering as well.
By measuring the changes in the pattern using a camera, the device would then know which foods are dangerous to eat.

Using lasers requires no contact with the meat. It can also be done through plastic packaging.

However, while the technique can detect different types of bacteria, such as campylobacter and E.coli, it cannot distinguish between them.

Dr Clett Erridge from the University of Leicester's Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, said: "This remarkable new technique has great potential to speed up the detection of the majority of different types of bacteria that may cause food-borne illnesses."

- Daily Mail