New technology for stopping mold

A newly established European research project aims to develop a commercially available test system for mold, based on the technology FTIR spectroscopy.

The project with the short name FUST will run for two years and focus on preventing mold in juice. The system developed can also be adapted to other food and beverages.

Mold causes severe economic losses
The annual turnover for the European food industry is 836 billion euros and the number of employees is four million. Juice producers have major problems with mold today. They risk that up to 40 percent of the juice they produce are being rejected or revoked because of mold.

Mold is a common problem in fruit and causes decay, loss of nutrients, reduced durability and reduced quality. A further challenge is the trend of natural food, which leads to a desire for minimal use of artificial additives and preservatives.

More sustainable production with new technology
There is a need for alternative technologies. In FUST there will be developed a system for identification and tracking of mold production using FTIR spectrum from the mold. The system will analyze many samples simultaneously, and laboratories and manufacturers will get access to a test system that can be used for routine monitoring of mold and remediation when it is discovered mold in the product.

The system provides a unique biochemical fingerprint for each mold stain. By distinguishing between microbial variations between species and pollution sources along the production line, the results can be monitored quickly and running costs are kept low. The system is also scalable, and can be used on a wide variety of other food products, such as cheese, bread and meat. It will also identify multiple pathogens than mold, such as bacteria and yeast.

For European juice industry the system will involve significantly increased productivity and more sustainable production.

About the research project:
Title: Source tracking and monitoring of mold contamination in food production (Fust)
Project Period: November 2012 – November 2014
Participants – Research: Nofima (coordinator) and Durham University
Industry: Labman Automation, Epleblomsten, Labnett, Synthon GmbH from Germany and ScanBi Diagnostics AB from Sweden.
Funding from the European Union: 1.6 million Euros

Food safety and quality   Raw materials and process optimisation  

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