` Chinese Search Giant Unveils Chopsticks to Detect Olive Oil Quality

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Chinese Search Giant Unveils Chopsticks to Detect Olive Oil Quality

Sep. 9, 2014
By Danielle Putier

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Baidu, a lead­ing Chi­nese Inter­net search engine and web ser­vices com­pany, turned heads when it unveiled its lat­est inno­va­tion at the Baidu World Tech­nol­ogy Con­fer­ence last Wednes­day. Robin Li, Baidu CEO, led a video pre­sen­ta­tion intro­duc­ing chop­sticks designed to detect con­t­a­m­i­nated olive oils or oils of sub­stan­dard qual­ity.

After dip­ping the chop­sticks in olive oil, users can con­nect them to a smart­phone app to obtain read­ings on the pH level, per­ox­ide value, and tem­per­a­ture of the oil. The chop­sticks will give an imme­di­ate label rang­ing from excel­lent” to bad” accord­ing to the read­ings.

Baidu, known as the Chi­nese Google, decided to man­u­fac­ture the sen­sor chop­sticks after they pro­moted a sim­i­lar prod­uct ear­lier in the year as an April Fool’s joke. The satir­i­cal com­mer­cial gen­er­ated sur­pris­ing inter­est from con­sumers and food safety pro­fes­sion­als.

Although the Baidu Kuaisou” have not entered the man­u­fac­tur­ing phase of pro­duc­tion, indus­try experts acknowl­edge the time­li­ness of such a prod­uct given China’s lack­lus­ter rep­u­ta­tion for food safety and san­i­ta­tion in recent years.

Zhong Nan­shan, who dis­cov­ered the SARS virus in 2003, told the Yangcheng Evening News in Guangzhou that 7 mil­lion to 14 mil­lion tons of waste cook­ing oil was pro­duced in China each year and that about 3.5 mil­lion tons of it prob­a­bly returns to din­ner tables through ille­gal recy­cling, accord­ing to a recent report by the LA Times.

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While the enthu­si­asm for such a prod­uct remains high, indus­try experts remain skep­ti­cal say­ing many uneth­i­cal com­pa­nies will learn to manip­u­late their chem­istry to obtain good read­ings. Such val­ues can be eas­ily manip­u­lated by the gut­ter oil pro­duc­ers by adding rel­e­vant chem­i­cals to give a false safe read­ing,” said Nong Shaozhuang, a food safety expert from Dalian Poly­tech­nic Uni­ver­sity.


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