Review: Food Sniffer

The electronic ‘nose’ which will sniff out potential danger lurking in your fridge

The Food Sniffer feeds the data about the meat back to an app on your smartphone

The Food Sniffer feeds the data about the meat back to an app on your smartphone


I’ve had food poisoning on two occasions in my life, and if possible, I’d like to avoid a third bout. That’s where the Food Sniffer comes in handy. The handheld sensor is designed to tell you when meat, fish and chicken is spoiling or gone off, thus allowing you to avoid a prolonged bout of staring into a toilet bowl , begging inwardly for someone to put you out of your misery.

Surely, you might ask, you can tell that meat has crossed the line in the more old fashioned and cheaper ways - checking the best before date, or by taking a good old sniff of it? Sure, but there are some things that the Food Sniffer does that your nose can’t. It detects the level of volatile organic compounds in the meat by electronically “sniffing” it and taking into account other factors such as temperature and humidity. It has sensors to read all this, along with ammonia.

Food Sniffer feeds the data back to an app on your smartphone, which will then tell you whether the food is safe to eat, if it has started to spoil, or if you should be handling it in a biohazard suit and detonating it for the safety of mankind.

If you’re a regular on Indiegogo, you might recognise this product; it raised almost $78,000 last year to produce the device, then called Peres. The finished product looks a little bit like a squashed remote control, but it’s lightweight and small enough to throw into your bag if you want to test meat before you buy.

The good

Aside from the obvious benefits of not making yourself horribly ill by playing fridge roulette, there’s a high chance that the Food Sniffer will actually save you a bit of money. Think about it : how much meat do you throw away every month because it’s gone over its use-by date and you aren’t willing to chance it? That could be perfectly safe to eat, but if you’re even the slightest bit paranoid about sell-by dates, you’ll bin it. the Food Sniffer, on the other hand, will tell you if the meat is still ok to eat, saving you from throwing away food unnecessarily.

It will also give you a warning if your in-date meat is harbouring a nasty surprise. Maybe it’s been left out of the fridge for too long, maybe it’s leftovers you aren’t too sure about. Maybe it’s the mystery meat that you excavated from the freezer.

We tried it on a few different meats that we unearthed from the fridge. The Food Sniffer gave the safe stamp of approval to chicken that was well within its use-by date, and gave a warning about some beef that was found lurking at the back that should have been eaten two days before. In that case, the device said it was unsafe, indicating that spoilage had begun, but it was still ok to eat if it was cooked thoroughly. We decided not to risk it.

The not so good

Those sensors are delicate. Don’t put it too close to the food or you risk damaging them and rendering the entire device pretty much useless.

Also, the device will only work with pork, beef, poultry and fish. If your tastes run to the little more exotic, you’ll have to rely on your good sense to decide if it’s safe to consume or not.

The rest

The battery on this device charges quickly, so you should be able to use it almost straight away. It charges over micro USB, so you can even plug it into your computer to charge it up.

Once you’ve connected the device to your phone for the first time, all you have to do is turn on Bluetooth and open the app to connect FoodSniffer again. There’s a small light that turns green when the device is connected. Leave the app though and the connection is lost.

The instructions on preparing the food sample are clear. You have to keep the food sample in a closed container for at least three minutes before testing to get an accurate reading.

The verdict

Takes the guesswork out of food preparation. It may even pay for itself after a few months.