Project number: INNEST / 2021/45
Program: Strategic projects in cooperation
Budget line: S7065000 (2021 4 S7065 1 1)
Project Title: INTEGRATED PHOTONICS FOR INTEGRAL MICROBIOLOGICAL CONTROL IN THE AGRI-FOOD SECTOR (BACTERIUM)
A project funded by the AVI (Valencian Innovation Agency) and the European Union through FEDER funds (European Regional Development Fund)
The control of microbiological contamination in the agri-food sector is a legal requirement aimed at guaranteeing the food safety of consumers. Current detection techniques and procedures imply waiting times of up to 48 hours to obtain the results and release the product to the market, which entails significant storage, logistical and energy costs for producers, as well as shorter freshness time of food available to the consumer. It is estimated that the agri-food sector invests more than 5,000 million euros in these operations.
Microorganisms that can cause food safety problems include a considerable number of species. However, most incidents are caused by a small number of incidents, which are the ones that cause the greatest damage, both to the industry and to consumers. Particularly important are Salmonella, responsible for more than half of the incident reports in 2019, Listeria and the Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia Coli.
The main objective of the BACTERIO project is to carry out research and develop a fast, highly sensitive, accurate and inexpensive method based on the biofunctionalization of Photonic Integrated Circuits (PIC) for the microbiological control (identification and quantification) of the major pathogens. incidence in agri-food products and facilities (E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes), overcoming the limitations of current systems and techniques.
The industrial need that this proposal covers is multiple. On the one hand, the quick, simple and cheap determination of the presence / absence of microorganisms will allow to drastically reduce the cost of storage, energy, logistics for producers caused by current waiting times, which will result in an improvement in their competitiveness and the direct reduction of its carbon footprint by having a quick tool to detect contamination in food and raw materials. On the other hand, the food will be released earlier, which means that its arrival at the points of sale will be faster, the freshness time will be longer and, therefore, the waste of food will be less. Finally, the rapid analysis will allow the establishment of more dense control plans without increasing the cost, which will undoubtedly allow to tackle the outbreaks earlier.