FOOD Safety at the point-of-Need via monolithic spectroscopic chip identiFying harmFul substances in frEsh pRoduce
Concern for our food is growing in Europe, driven by industrialised food production and repeated crises. Current analytical technology is too expensive and bound to the laboratory to test more than a small fraction of 1% of the EU's food. This problem 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 on both sides of the global divide. FOODSNIFFER is field-deployable and simple-to-use as a result of the integration of three major innovations: (i) the transducer itself, an all-silicon fully integrated optoelectronic platform based on Broad-Band Mach-Zehnder Interferometry capable of synchronous highly-sensitive label-free multi-analyte detection. This ultimately-integrated transducer due to the incorporation of the light-sources, sensing elements, spectral analyzer and photodetectors, in a single chip, can be used in single-shot cartridges. (ii) the innovative design of the wafer-scale microfluidics and filtration systems that unburden the reader of external pumps/valves, and intensive sample preparation. (iii) the development of a low-power reader controlled by a smartphone through a custom-produced application. The software controls the sensor and also processes its signal and then sends the results securely via the internet during the on-the-spot food safety analysis. FOODSNIFFER is 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.