Integrated System Based on Photonic Microresonators and Microfluidic Components for Rapid Detection of Toxins in Milk and Dairy Products - SYMPHONY
Food security and quality is of paramount importance as global pressures such as population growth and scarcity of resources increase demand and raise production costs. Detection of toxins and contaminants is a complex task, typically where very low levels present could cause significant harm to the people consuming the produce.
In this aim, the SYMPHONY STREP project (FP7-ICT-2013-10) objective is to produce a platform not only capable of high quality and rapid analysis of Aflatoxin M1, but also with architecture transferable to detection of other toxins and contaminates.
SYMPHONY addresses the needs of the dairy industry with novel microfluidic technologies and biochemistry for sample preparation, photonic integrated sensors and compact hardware for integration in the production chain of the dairy industry, leading toward precision process management.
FBK was the project coordinator and provided the technologies for photonic microring resonators (MRR) and biosurfaces functionalization with aptamers.
1st November 2013 – 31st January 2017
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7-ICT-2013-10 under grant agreement No 610580.
In the dairy industry, one of the most pressing needs for food quality and safety is the timely detection of aflatoxin M1 contaminations that originate from animal feed and are secreted into milk. This issue represents a hazard for human health and an economic loss for the dairy industry. The available technology for aflatoxin detection is laboratory-based, in most cases requiring sample preparation and does not provide timely identification of contaminants, thus fails to deliver cost-effective management of milk quality. The entire supply chain relies on the fact that the dairy products delivered to consumers are safe. Current best practices for Aflatoxin management in milk in the modern dairy industry recommend aflatoxin M1 analysis to be carried out routinely for quality assurance and quality control purposes as well as for feed-back mechanisms to farm and animal health management, as requested by European Commission regulation (EC) No. 1881/2006. The current procedure involves the collection of samples from collection tanks. The milk samples are analysed in a laboratory with screening tests such as Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). Contaminated milk that exceeds the 50 ng/Kg (ppt) aflatoxin limit is not allowed in the market and has to be disposed.
The SYMPHONY STREP project (FP7-ICT-2013-10) addresses the needs of the dairy industry with novel microfluidic technologies and biochemistry for sample preparation, photonic integrated sensors and compact hardware for integration in the production chain of the dairy industry, leading toward precision process management. The objective is to integrate different technologies like photonics, microfluidics and microbiology to create a portable and quick tool to detect aflatoxin in milk. In this aim, is proposing a new generataion of high-tech devices allowing for fast and reliable analysis of the dairy products quality. These would lead to a more precise and effective management of production and distribution processes.
The SYMPHONY main objective is to produce a platform capable of high quality and rapid analysis of Aflatoxin M1 with architecture transferrable to detection of other toxins and contaminants.
By summarizing SYMPHONY is a demand-driven project pursuing advancement of MNBS devices toward real-world applications by providing:
- Integrated sample preparation for analytical tools in dairy industry
- Advancement in high sensitivity photonics biosensors, by using aptamers to provide selectivity to targets and improved sensor stability and hybrid integration of sources and detectors
- Improvement of milk quality assurance by making available new technologies and procedures for the detection of aflatoxin and other contaminants
In addition to economic benefits and improvement of dairy industry procedures, there is an obvious perspective impact on human health of the improved detection of contaminants in food. It is complex to quantify the aflatoxins impact on human health of aflatoxin contaminations. Different factors participate to the overall cost and can be summarised in health care costs, productivity and human lives loss. Aflatoxins are at the origin of both acute and chronic intoxications.
From the point of view of the industrial competitiveness of Europe, the SYMPHONY project had an impact in the implementation of innovative and highly competitive technologies and devices by means of heterogeneous integration of nano/microelectronics, biochemical technologies and photonics. The consortium had a strong industrial participation, with companies operating in microfluidic technologies and advanced packaging of heterogeneous systems (EPIGEM), photonics (LioniX) and end-users operating in the dairy industry (CONCAST), which can exploit the scientific and technical results of the project. Advancement of analytical devices and of single components such as microfluidics, heterogeneous systems and photonic sensors were achieved by the interaction of industrial partnership with academia (UNITN) and research centres (FBK, ACREO) with expertise in biochemistry, advanced photonics, microfluidics and microsystems. Within SYMPHONY, different fields of expertise created a synergy to address tangible needs of both industry and citizens. The exploitation of the main project results will provide both technologies for food safety and the development of concepts, technologies and components that will enable further inter-disciplinary R&I activities.