Portable Sensor for Fish and Seafood Freshness

Abstract/Technology Overview

This portable integrated sensor device determines whether fish and other seafood are suitable for consumption. The innovation detects gases emitted by food, which can be correlated with their freshness. It consists of a gas sensor, LED indicators, a microcontroller, acrylic packaging, and a power source.

A promising field instrument for fish and seafood inspection, the device allows rapid, non-destructive and objective assessment of freshness. Both calibration and operation are easy to perform compared to lab-grade equipment that require hours, if not days, to come up with an assessment. Due to its simplicity, the device can be housed in a palm-sized container.

Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages


The go/no-go prototype device is designed as a lid which can be conveniently used to cap disposable containers where the sample will be placed. The sensor is first calibrated by exposure to ambient air. It is then placed over a container containing the sample, such that the fish vapor is trapped inside.

The sensor acquires data for 90 seconds. Either of the two LEDs (green and red) will blink at one-second intervals depending on the gas concentration (trimethylamine and total volatile basic nitrogen). Once 90 seconds have elapsed, one of the LEDs will remain lit up: red, to indicate if the concentration of the gas has crossed the threshold, or green if it is still within safe levels.

Although the R&D for the prototype used Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), the sensor can be calibrated and programmed for other types of fish. Further tests can be performed using seafood such as mud crabs and shrimp with gaseous spoilage indicators.


Potential Applications


This breakthrough device can be deployed by agencies and testing labs concerned with food safety. It can also enhance quality assurance in fish processing plants, markets, and restaurants. Because of its portability, the device is highly convenient for consumers and retailers interested in making their independent assessments of food products.


Customer Benefit


The device solves the problem of having to use time-consuming and expensive wet chemical methods to evaluate fish and seafood freshness.

Other key benefits:

  • Affordable compared to lab-grade equipment
  • Highly calibratable to fit standards for freshness 
  • Easy to use in terms of calibration and operation 


Contact Person

Karen Azupardo


University of the Philippines

Technology Category
  • Sensors & Instrumentation
  • Quality / Safety
Technology Readiness Level
  • TRL 4

metal oxide, fish freshness, seafood freshness, sensor, ammonia, trimethylamine (TMA), spoilage, TVB-N (total volatile basic nitrogen)