The CDC estimates that approximately one in six Americans (48 million people) get sick from foodborne illnesses, 3,000 of whom die, every year. Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have come up with a new invention that could help shrink that astronomical number: a spray-on barcode for fruits and vegetables that is not only able to detect contaminated food, but that also allows people to trace the contamination back to its source (even if it’s a farm thousands of miles away). The "DNA" can be sprayed onto the produce at any point during the supply chain, from farm to distributor.
The substance, called DNATrax, is entirely harmless and is made from, according to CBS, sugar and non-living, non-viable DNA. The spray is odorless and tasteless, and can make a serious impact on food safety. With just a simple (an usually inexpensive) DNA swab, the origins of the product, as well as its "purity" can be traced within an hour. The data, according to the scientists behind this innovation, can get super-specific, identifying “when [the produce] was picked, who picked it, and potentially which tree it came from."
In addition to sniffing out contaminated foods, the same technology can also be used to trace counterfeit or fraudulent food.