Concern for the safety of our food is growing in Europe, driven by industrialised food production and repeated crises. The majority of quantitative analytical technology currently in use is bound to the laboratory setting and therefore able to test a small fraction of approximately 1% with respect to the EU's food supplies. This hugely threatening problem of food safety requires more massive screening of food and water extending from the source to the point of consumption. A low-cost and portable system delivering analytical data to a central location would help to prevent or identify early any food safety threat outbreaks and thereby massively reduce human suffering and its associated financial cost.

Towards this direction the European project FOODSNIFFER which commenced in September 1st, 2012 aims to provide a highly-sensitive and label-free multi-analyte system. Since the system implements immunoassay principles for the lab-on-a-chip sample analysis it is extremely versatile concerning the range of analytes that could be detected, limited theoretically only by available reagents.
Because of the unique integration of photonic and electronic components on the same silicon die, the FOODSNIFFER chip will be very compact and with low power consumption requirements for its operation. The disposable chips are inserted into a cartridge which is placed into a handheld reader that is controlled by a smartphone through a custom-developed app. The software controls the disposable chip and also processes its signal and transmits the analytical results securely via the internet during the on-the-spot food safety analysis.
FOODSNIFFER will be a complete business solution which will be demonstrated in three areas of great importance to European society and regulators, viz. the detection of pesticide residues, mycotoxins and allergens in selected food categories in order to demonstrate field-based detection of harmful species at low concentrations, which is a feat unattained so far by any point-of-need system. The system requires no expertise or special resources to deliver rapid and highly accurate analytical results. The project will develop a prototype to resolve the key technological challenges. The project consortium will further develop the prototype into effective commercial and industrial solutions.
FOODSNIFFER is a collaborative project under the 7th Framework Program of the European Commission. The 4.0 M€ research project brings together 10 European partners, 4 of which are SMEs. Participants in the FOODSNIFFER Project are: NATIONAL CENTER FOR SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ‘DEMOKRITOS’, (Greece) (COORDINATOR), TEKNOLOGIAN TUTKIMUSKESKUS VTT (Finland), TRUSTFOOD STICHTING (The Netherlands), JOBST TECHNOLOGIES GMBH (Germany), LIONIX BV (The Netherlands), RIKILT Wageningen UR (The Netherlands), EUROFINS ANALYTICS FRANCE SAS, UNIVERSIDAD DE ALMERIA (Spain), UNIWERSYTET JAGIELLONSKI (Poland), THETAMETRISIS (Greece).
The FOODSNIFFER EU Project is proceeding on schedule in all respects of the silicon chip, the disposable cartridge and the reader. Preliminary tests with the previous version of the FOODSNIFFER chip produced promising results for the detection of less than one-part-per-million cow-milk protein in goat’s milk and indeed the sensitivity exceeded some laboratory standard methods. The next analytical targets planned are soy and peanut allergen and the mycotoxin, ochratoxin A.

 

FOOODSNIFFER is funded by the European Commission within the FP7-ICT-MNBS programme, under Grant Agreement no 318319.


For more information please visit FOODSNIFFER web-site www.foodniffer.eu 

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