PERES is an electronic “nose” that enables smartphones to determine whether a food item or ingredient is suitable for consumption.

Screen Shot 2014 05 27 at 2.24.20 PM Electronic nose for smartphones keeps spoilt food at bay

According to the World Health Organization, 76 million cases of food-borne illnesses occur each year, resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths annually. This can be prevented by proper handling of food and ensuring food products are fresh.

However, it’s not always that easy to determine whether a food product is already spoilt. Case in point: in the UK alone, 7 million tons of food are thrown away each year unnecessarily. However, even some poisonous compounds produced during meat spoilage are actually odorless. This means we humans cannot always rely on our noses to determine if something has already turned bad.

And unless you’re cooking inside a sterile laboratory, it’s highly likely that items that come into contact with food — including your hands, utensils, surfaces and other ingredients — can easily contaminate it.

peres Electronic nose for smartphones keeps spoilt food at bay

To address the need for a more accurate system for determining food spoilage, a UK-based startup has developed an electronic “nose” called PERES. The device uses sensors to detect volatile organic compounds in the air surrounding a food item, and then readings are adjusted taking into account temperature and humidity. This data is then analyzed through a smartphone app, which calculates whether the food item is good. PERES is a handheld-fevice designed to connect to smartphones via Bluetooth, which makes it handy for use in either home, industrial or even mobile applications.

PERES works with pork, beef, chicken and fish, and the app will alert users whether a food item is fresh, hazardous to health or whether there is a risk of food poisoning.

peres smartphone app Electronic nose for smartphones keeps spoilt food at bay

The team has launched a campaign on Indiegogo, which aimed to raise $50,000 to finance production of PERES based on an updated “version 2″ prototype. A contribution of $89 gets you a beta tester status, wherein the company will send you a prototype by end July this year. A contribution of $120 gets backers an early-bird pack. Backers can also contribute other varied amounts, which can go toward PERES’ charity partner, Action for Hunger.

As of writing, the campaign has raised $64,855, or 130 percent of the target funding amount. Will this be a useful tool for both professional applications and home kitchens alike?