The peril of the dodgy chicken leg could soon be at an end after scientists devised a cheap bacteria-detecting laser that can be mounted in fridges.

The prototype fires beams of light at food and then reads how they are “speckled” over time as they bounce back off bugs multiplying on the surface. The technology is expected to go on sale within a year.

The South Korean inventors hope that their machine will greatly reduce the number of cases of food poisoning by alerting people when the contents of their fridge become dangerous.

One important target is Campylobacter, which has been detected in almost three quarters of chicken carcasses in Europe and causes more than 100 deaths a year in the UK.