New technology could offer cheaper, faster food testing

The new test involves using specialized droplets that bind together in a specific way if harmful bacteria are present. The result can be detected by either the naked eye or a smartphone.
Updated 09 May 2017
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New technology could offer cheaper, faster food testing

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new sensor that uses smartphone technology to detect harmful bacteria in food, including Escherichia coli (E.coli). The sensor was developed by the research lab of Timothy Swager, the John D. MacArthur professor of chemistry at MIT, in a project supported by MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) Solutions program.
J-WAFS Solutions is sponsored by Community Jameel, and aims to help MIT faculty and students commercialize breakthrough technologies and inventions that have applications for critical food and water challenges.
Current food safety testing often involves culturing food samples to see if harmful bacterial colonies grow, but that process can take as long as two to three days and is generally conducted offsite in specialist labs.
The new test involves using specialized droplets that bind together in a specific way if harmful bacteria are present. The result can be detected by either the naked eye or a smartphone, offering faster and cheaper food safety testing that could be carried out onsite.
According to the World Health Organization, one in ten people fall ill every year from eating contaminated food and 420,000 die as a result. Children under five years of age are at particularly high risk, with 125,000 children dying from foodborne diseases every year.
Providing a cheaper and more accessible technology could allow early detection of foodborne pathogens from producer to consumer, reducing the risk to the public of consuming contaminated food.
The J-WAFS was created at MIT to spearhead research that will help humankind adapt to a rapidly changing planet and combat world-wide water scarcity and food supply. In addition, the lab elevates MIT’s commitment to addressing the collective pressure of population growth, urbanization, and climate variability — factors that endanger food and water systems in developing and developed countries alike.


Careem honors outstanding captains in Riyadh

Updated 12 December 2018
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Careem honors outstanding captains in Riyadh

Careem held the first edition of its Captain’s Excellence Award Ceremony in Riyadh on Saturday. The event, which will be held annually, was the first-of-its-kind in the region and welcomed over 300 top-performing “captains” (Careem drivers) across the Kingdom. 

The captains were awarded based on different criteria such as: Captains with the highest number of trips, highest (customer-given) ratings and longest serving captains. Rewards were also handed out to captain ambassadors, i.e. those with the highest number of referrals and captains that were given a special shoutout on social media by customers for their dedication to their service. Several rewards were handed out along with the grand prize, a brand new car. 

Abdulla Elyas, chief people officer and co-founder of Careem, opened the event with an ode to the captains in attendance, thanking them for their service and commitment in driving impact through meaningful initiatives across the Kingdom. Some of these initiatives included the vaccination campaign in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, which helped more than 100,000 men, women and children across 17 cities get vaccinated in their own homes. Careem also collaborated with Bupa Arabia during Ramadan this year to donate clothes from customers to people in need, where over 180,000 donations were collected. 

Elyas also announced Careem’s partnership with Alwaleed Philanthropies (AP) in delivering the first installment of cars for the empowerment of people with special needs. The foundation, chaired by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, will provide a number of cars over the course of seven years to men and women of the Society for Physically Disabled Adults (Harakia) after being trained.

“Our captains are the lifeblood of our business and we wanted to celebrate these men and women for helping us achieve our mission of simplifying and improving the lives of people in the Kingdom,” Elyas said. 

“We are proud to have 395,000 ‘captainahs’ (female drivers) and captains registered with us to date in Saudi Arabia, providing over 122 million rides. This ceremony is our small way to thank them for their service and reward them for the hard work they put in every day so that people have a safe way to get around. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today” 

Muaaed Al-Saeed, a representative from the Public Transport Authority (PTA), said: “We are excited to have you all; you have overcome each obstacle you were faced with in a short span of time and for that we are extremely proud.” 

He added: “On this occasion, I convey the regards of PTA President Dr. Rumaih Al-Rumaih. The participation of myself and Majed Al-Zahrani, PTA general manager, is proof of our support to all the captains.”