IGEM:IMPERIAL/2007/Cell By Date

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Cell by Date


The hamburger has become synonymous with modern western culture. We see in fast food chains such as McDonalds and Burger King, in ready made form at supermarkets and at most home barbeques where they have been made from scratch using ground beef. But who controls the quality of our burgers, who insures that the burgers we eat don’t spoil the fun and make us sick?

A lot of work has been carried out to study the spoilage of the beef that make up our burgers in fact there are professional organisation such as the FDA and HACCAP which aim to ensure the quality of beef that our industries produce. We can see this in our supermarkets in the form of a printed ‘sell by date’, which is based upon challenge testing a process in which beef is put through numerous temperature scenarios and then a prediction is made about how long the beef will last when it has left the factory. Due to safety constraints this prediction often means that the printed sell by date indicates that the beef is off when in may in fact have a few days left. To improve on this other efforts have been made by industry.

In addition to ‘sell by dates’ Industry has look into other ways of predicting when meat is spoiled. One particular technology is a family of devices called temperature time integrators TTIs. These devices try to monitor the thermal exposure of the food and when a certain level of exposure is reached a change occours, usually visual, which signals that the beef has gone off.

This project is concerned with the development of a TTIs that is based upon synthetic biology components : exploiting the thermal dependence of gene expression of simple reporter system in a cell free extract.