Development of an automated, novel biosensor platform for pesticide residue detection
2011-2013 | EU/FP7-SME-2011 (286442)

Principle Investigator (NCSRD): Dr. Evangelia Livaniou

Researchers Participating (NCSRD): Dr. S. Kakabakos, Dr. D. Mastellos, Dr. P. Petrou, Dr. I. Pirmettis

Budget (NCSRD): 237,181.25 euros

The European farming community is under a number of threats not least due to the increasing demands to produce higher quality food according 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-treatment and 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 FOODSCAN project was “conceived” and realized in an effort of the European scientific community to meet the above-described needs of both, the producers -especially medium and small enterprisers (SMEs)- and consumers. More specifically, the objective of the FOODSCAN project was to develop a novel and automated biosensor platform [primarily based on the Bioelectric Recognition Assay (BERA) technology] for pesticide and other chemical residue detection incorporating membrane-engineered cells with pesticide-specific antibodies. Furthermore, a specially designed electronic interface was realized in order to acquire and manipulate the corresponding signals from the real time analysis. The pre-production prototype developed during this project was an immunosensor aimed at the detection of the pesticides 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (MCPA), chlorpyrifos/ chlorpyrifos methyl, orthophenylphenol and carbendazim as well as 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA, especially in cork and wine). The product was developed by an SME consortium based in Cyprus, Spain, Germany, Greece and Portugal with the support of RTD performers from the UK (Uniscan Instruments Ltd) and Greece (NSCR “Demokritos”, PI: Dr. E. Livaniou, and Agricultural University of Athens, PI: Professor S. Kintzios). The project was coordinated by the Institut fϋr Getreideverarbeitung Gesellschaft (IGV), Germany.

Major Achievements

The FOODSCAN biosensor has proved to be a novel, breakthrough system for the detection of specific pesticide / toxic substances residues in food commodities, outperforming over conventional systems in terms of high speed, low cost, portability, used friendliness and high sample throughput. Provided that specific antibodies against a wide range of target pesticides could be efficiently used in the FOODSCAN platform, thus allowing detection of a long series of pesticides in food samples, FOODSCAN could further evolve and eventually enjoy shares of 1-4% of the total three billion € market for food safety control.

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