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Lab on a Chip - Early-warning platform for food safety

Developing technology to improve food safety

2020
2022

The Lab on a Chip project aims to develop a system for precise and rapid analysis of food contamination, which can be done on-site at the production stage. 

Every year, over 23 million people across Europe fall ill from eating unsafe food, which results in 5,000 death cases.  

Food contaminations are mostly monitored in the production phase, for instance in factories, using time-consuming methods with analysis taking up to a week. This delay in identification of contaminated products means that some are released to the market and consumed. This food testing paradox is demonstrated by the enormous rate of 50 weekly recalls across the EU and the USA.  

The Technion Israel Institute of Technology have developed an innovative technology, which provides sensitive, real-time detection of contaminants. The technology is based on several concentration techniques using a ‘lab on a chip’ format. The project aims to use this technology to develop food safety products and services which obtain testing results in real time. Ultimately, this work will improve food safety and minimise food product recalls.

 

What happened so far

The Lab on a Chip project also has the objective of studying consumer attitudes and perceptions around food safety and rapid detection devices for food.

Starting with the UK, an exploratory online study was conducted in 2020, with a total sample of 32 people, collecting data on food safety issues, pathogens, and toxins, as well as rapid detection technologies, as a way to produce safer, less wasteful and potentially cheaper food. The aim was to test the effect of various levels of information provision on consumer attitude formation.

Subsequently, a large-scale study was conducted in the UK, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands with a total sample of 2,000 consumers, specifically 500 per country. The study was designed to understand consumer reactions to food safety in general as well as to rapid detection technologies for food contaminants and, by providing information on food contaminants, food safety and Lab on a Chip rapid detection technology, to map the process of attitude formation.

See more under Results

How it works

An interview with the Lab on a Chip professors

The microbiologists who lead EIT Food’s ‘Lab on a Chip’ project, professors Yechezkel Kashi and Gilad Yossifon, discussed the future of testing for food safety with Dairy Industries International.

“The world has been looking for quicker tests for years. Over the last few years, molecular biology has seen a big revolution in clinical microbiology, which along with lab-on-a-chip technology may enable faster testing”

- Professor Kashi

“It is also connected to COVID-19, with the impact on the consumer and the economic impact. The number of people who die from food contamination amounts to more than five times the number of people who died from the pandemic every year”

- Professor Yossifon

Read the complete article here

Credit: Dairy Industries International

Partners

Project lead

Yechezkel Kashi

Yechezkel Kashi

Activity Leader

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