AgrEUfood is an Interreg V Flanders-the Netherlands project (ERDF) aimed at developing a low-cost quick test for the detection of microbiological contamination in the agro food industry. Industrial and quality norms are currently assessed by a cumbersome slow process. The project will investigate the potential application of several biosensor platforms in an industrial setting.
Current practice is based on taking samples and sending them to an external microbiology laboratory. Traditional culture-based methods will be performed to determine the presence and concentrations of microorganisms in the sample under study. Obtaining a full microbiological analysis is a process that can take up to a week. This could lead to batches of food being identified as contaminated upon delivery, resulting in a product recall and associated economic and reputation damage.
Bioreceptor technology based on synthetic bacteria receptors has recently demonstrated to be able to identify and quantify bacteria in aqueous solutions. The technique has shown its added value for fast bacteria detection in a lab environment but additional research is needed to assess its applicability in industrial sensing.
In AgrEUfood a transnational consortium consisting of three universities (UM, UHasselt and KULeuven) will generate knowledge about bacterial sensors that will be integrated by two regional SMEs (Voxdale BVBA and Yookr BV) in an industrial environment. Two triple-helix organizations, ILVO and Brightland Campus Greenport Venlo, will extend the results to the relevant industry.
The commercial potential of the developed technologies will be demonstrated by two case industrial case studies: the monitoring of bacterial presence in a tortilla production line (Dürüm Company NL) and the cleaning water of smoothie vending machine (Alberts NV).