The objective of the FOODSCAN project is to develop a novel and automated biosensor platform for pesticide and other chemical residue detection incorporating membrane-engineered cells with pesticide-specific antibodies. The system is primarily based on the Bioelectric Recognition Assay (BERA) technology. Furthermore a specially designed electronic interface is realized in order to acquire and manipulate the corresponding signals from the real time analysis.
The pre-production prototype developed during this project is a Bioelectric Recognition Assay (BERA) sensor aimed at the detection of organophosphate and carbamate pesticides, 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyalcanoic (MCPA), other phenoxyalcanoic herbicides, or other small organic contaminants, e.g. 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) (in cork and wine). The product is developed by an SME consortium based in Cyprus, Spain, Germany, Greece and Portugal with the support of RTD performers from the UK and Greece.
The European farming community is under a number of threats not least due to the increasing demands to produce higher quality food to increasingly stringent standards. They lack the technology to test their produce for the presence of pesticide residues at the site of production. If a system was developed that gave farmers, food companies and distributors the flexibility to test for a range of analytes regularly and in a cost effective way it would allow them to offer remedial solutions quicker than is currently possible.
The conventional analysis of pesticide residues in food commodities is a labour intensive procedure. Standard analysis methods include extensive sample pre-treatmentand determination by gas chromatography and high performance liquid chromatography to achieve the necessary selectivity and sensitivity for the different classes of compounds under detection. Therefore, rapid pesticide residue testing is necessary.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement n° 286442