Knowledge Based Bio-Economy

NANODETECT

Development of nanosensors for the detection of quality parameters along the food chain (Food Processing)

Project acronym: NANODETECT

Title of project: Development of nanosensors for the detection of quality parameters along the food chain

Research area: Food Processing

Contract No: 211906

EU contribution: €2 108 788

Start date: September 2008

Duration: 42 months

Status: finalised

Working with matter on a scale of less than a micrometre – and usually between 1 and 100 nanometres – nanotechnology is relatively new to the biosciences, for example it has been applied to some nutrients to boost their bioavailability. The idea behind the Nanodetect project is that nanotechnologies could also be used to develop innovative and user-friendly biosensors using nanostructures with activated surfaces. Such biosensors would detect contaminants and help create state-of-the-art food quality control systems.

Within the Nanodetect project, an advanced biosensor technology was used to develop off-line monitoring systems (sensors) and design the appropriate in-line models. These models combine features of sensitive and specific molecular biological processes with the application of microfluidic systems in liquid process-streams. The IT-based biosensor systems developed by the project contribute to better quality control systems – for example in the European dairy industry which was taken as a case study.

The main challenge in monitoring for contaminants in the food chain has been the lack of fast offline monitoring systems or user-friendly in-line systems. The Nanodetect partners chose milk as reference process-stream as it is subject to different levels of various contaminants. Of these the following quality- and safety-related contaminants were selected as models: for mycotoxins, aflatoxin M1; for drug residues, aminoglycosides; and finally for fraud detection, high-value goat milk blended with cheap cows’ milk. The project’s biosensors are based on different types of immunoassays (biochemical tests for the presence and concentration of specific molecules), depending on the selected application. Individual sensor modules were developed to detect and quantify specific contaminants; the modules can be combined according to users’ requirements.

An off-line system was constructed and upgraded with tailored software and an automated decision-support system. It can be used by large production systems, and also in bench-top devices by small companies with flexible production units. This new technology enables contaminant analyses without expensive and time-consuming sample preparation, and it provides the opportunity for on-site analyses.

The Nanodetect system avoids the use and disposal of harmful solvents and requires no particular safety measures. Data processing is automated by the decision-support system, which collects and processes measurements and evaluates results. Furthermore, an integrated database allows various reporting options and ensures traceability – vital for all food processing sectors. The modular design of the Nanodetect system forms the base for further applications. The modules are exchangeable and, through the development of parallel configurations, the system is adaptable to different fluids or contaminants in the same processing stream.

In the Nanodetect project, a partnership of industrial and academic food technologists, sensor technologists and quality managers cooperated to develop an innovative technology.

Website of project: www.nanodetect.eu

Coordinator: Hauke Hilz,  hilz@ttz-bremerhaven.de

Organisation: TTZ Bremerhaven, Germany, www.ttz-bremerhaven.de

Partners:

  • RIKILT - STICHTING DIENST LANDBOUWKUNDIG ONDERZOEK – Institute of Food Safety, the Netherlands, www.rikilt.wur.nl
  • MCB – Institute for Microsensors, – actuators and -systems (IMSAS), University of Bremen, Germany, www.imsas.uni-bremen.de
  • CSL – THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS, UK, www.fera.defra.gov.uk/
  • BIOCULT – Biocult BV, the Netherlands, www.biocult.com
  • NorayBio – NORAY BIOINFORMATICS SL, Spain, www.noraybio.com
  • OPTOTEK – OPTOTEK RAZVOJ IN PROIZVODNJA OPTICNE IN LASERSKE OPREME DOO, Slovenia, www.optotek.si
  • RINY – FORMATGERIA GRANJA RINYA SL, Spain, www.granjarinya.com
  • MGLANG – MEIEREI GENOSSENSCHAFT EG LANGENHORN, Germany