The project centres on the creation of new and safer methods of food production. This will be achieved by critically examining a number of food processing operations to determine the optimum deployment of measurement tools to allow improved traceability of toxic contaminants and to identify hazard analysis critical control points within such processes. Rapid, low cost, simple to use immunochemical assay procedures will be developed to allow the at-line measurement of toxic compounds in food production processes, thereby creating a mechanism to achieve increased food safety. The specific problem addressed will be the reduction of toxic chlorophenol and chloroanisole fungicide residues in wine, potable water and fruit juice processing operations. These compounds are found in many food products at part per billion levels. Implementation of this approach will provide the consumer with a high quality safer food product.
The main objective of the work centres on the creation of new and safer methods of food production. This will be achieved by developing a new generation of rapid, low cost, sensitive and simple immunochemical-based measurement technologies to aid identification of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points within liquid food processing operations. Such an approach is expected to allow the evaluation of raw materials in processes prior to their integration into the manufacturing process, aiding the traceability of toxic compounds within the overall operation. Application of these measurement tools within the process operation will act as a preventative measure to reduce the content of unwanted materials within these production processes. The applicability of this approach as a means of creating safer food production methods will be assessed using toxic chlorophenolic fungicides and their chloroanisole breakdown products, that are toxic contaminants of many food products at the part per billion level. The project will specifically target wine, fruit juice and potable water food production processes since the target compounds are commonly identified in such matrices due to fungicide treatment of raw materials.
The expected achievements of the project are all linked to creating safer food products and can be summarised as scientific, technological and demonstration results as follows:
- To develop standard commercially exploitable monoclonal antibody preparations and immunochemical test kits to allow the simple, low-cost and rapid measurement of trace levels of chlorophenol and chloroanisole fungicide residues in raw, part-processed and packaging materials for use within existing food processing operations where such problems are known to exist.
- To develop a suite of novel electrochemical immunosensor devices to further simplify the immunochemical assay procedure and to provide an objective comparison of sensor performance versus standard immunochemical test kits and existing instrumental methods for the measurement of said analytes under real process conditions. A hand-held electrochemical metering device will be developed to allow usage of the immunosensor devices in an at-line capacity.
- To develop immunosensors incorporating automated liquid handling to facilitate ease of operation. Miniaturisation of these fluid handling devices will be undertaken, and combined with the electrochemical metering devices to provide an at-line automated liquid handling immunosensor capability.
- To develop hazard analysis critical control point and traceability models to identify factors relating to the input and processing of toxic contaminants, specifically chloroanisole and chlorophenol fungicide residues within liquid food (wines, fruit juices and potable water) processing operations. This approach will encompass the design of efficient analytical measurement programmes in conjunction with improved measurement technologies to recognise and hence remove sources of contamination in selected food processing operations.
- To combine the optimum measurement model with the immunochemical assay approach to create a combined standard operating procedure and measurement regime capable of rapidly identifying contamination with the process operation and identifying the source(s) of contamination.