European scientists develop portable analyzer of pollutants in oil

European scientists develop portable analyzer of pollutants in oil

2015/24/11 - A team of European scientists has developed a portable analyzer of pollutants in oil, milk, nuts and dried fruit. The system, based on biosensors, photonics and microfluidics, seeks to simplify the analysis process providing instant results with a "simple and inexpensive" tool.

Biofos is a specific-target research program (STREP) co-funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme.

The aim of Biofos is to develop a simple, fast, low-cost, sensitive, portable and reliable, screening tool for in-situ detection of food contaminations. The reusable biosensing system will be based on optical interference and lab-on-a-chip (LoC) technology. By combining the most promising concepts from the photonic, biological, nanochemical and fluidic parts of LoC systems, the BIOFOS system is targeting in the specific and highly sensitive detection of antibiotics, mycotoxins, insecticides and heavy metals in milk, olive oil and nuts.

Thus, as reported by the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA), the developed device uses biosensors to identify, for the moment, seven contaminants in food sectors analyzed: metals (copper) pesticides (phosmet) in oil, antibiotics (penicillin and Aflotaxina M1) and lactose in milk; and mycotoxins (aflatoxin B1, ochratoxin A) in nuts.

The system integrates several characteristics of a LoC ("Lab on a chip"), a small size device that allows several tests, so that a single device can detect various pollutants when functions.

According to IRTA, the LoC also provides significant advantages over other techniques used until this date: it does not require hazardous reagents, in fact the biosensor can be reused up to 30 times and does not require specialized personnel.

The project, which began in late 2013, is formed by a consortium of 10 partners from institutes and European companies specializing in research and innovation in photonics, biochemical and electrical engineering, and other technical specialties.

IRTA participates as an expert in the product definition for end users, providing the link between scientific research and industry, as well as the validation of the technique at the analytical level. It is expected that by 2016 it will have a prototype to prepare the release of the Biofos system.

In its opinion, the flexibility offered by this system can help improve food security, facilitating the control of contaminants throughout the production chain, especially in the buying and selling of raw materials and processing industries.

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