Food safety is one of the most important and widespread research topics worldwide. The development of relevant analytical methods or devices for detection of unsafe factors in foods is necessary to ensure food safety and an important aspect of the studies of food safety. In recent years, developing high-performance sensors used for food safety analysis has made remarkable progress. The combination of carbon-based nanomaterials with excellent properties is a specific type of sensor for enhancing the signal conversion and thus improving detection accuracy and sensitivity, thus reaching unprecedented levels and having good application potential. This review describes the roles and contributions of typical carbon-based nanomaterials, such as mesoporous carbon, single- or multi-walled carbon nanotubes, graphene and carbon quantum dots, in the construction and performance improvement of various chemo- and biosensors for various signals. Additionally, this review focuses on the progress of applications of this type of sensor in food safety inspection, especially for the analysis and detection of all types of toxic and harmful substances in foods.
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