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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Spectral Imaging for Contaminant Detection on Fresh Food Produce

Location: Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-42000-018-23
Project Type: Trust

Start Date: Jan 03, 2013
End Date: Jan 02, 2016

Objective:
The objective of this cooperative research project is to investigate non-destructive optical sensing-based comprehensive tools and techniques to rapidly assess safety and quality of fruits and vegetables and this will reduce food safety risks in pre-harvest and post-harvest production. This work will focus primarily on fresh fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens, that have been associated with serious food safety problems, as well as other common items such as apples and tomatoes. This project will focus on the validation of the ARS optical sensing technologies for the detection of contaminated and defective fresh produce, and chemical and biological contamination of food products and processing surfaces.

Approach:
The goal of this project is to improve the safety and quality of produce consumed by the public. Hyperspectral imaging systems will incorporate multitasking capabilities that allow users to select desired inspection criteria, and to optimize wavelengths and thresholds to address changes in produce characteristics on-the-fly. To address the industry-identified need to survey produce in-field for fecal contamination, technology to detect feces in produce fields will be developed based on a laser-induced fluorescence imaging technique. To address the potential to detect chemical and biological substances of food safety interest, a novel Raman macro-scale imaging system will be developed and validated. The scientific products will be sensing technologies, including databases of wavelengths and detection algorithms useful for inspecting produce and surfaces in produce production environments. The practical products will be imaging devices and systems that can be used to reduce the risk of foodborne illness associated with produce. More specifically, to allow comprehensive inspection of produce, two prototype systems for assessing multiple quality and agri-food safety issues using a single camera will be developed, one for "flat" produce such as lettuce and a second for "round" produce such as apples. These systems will incorporate multitasking capabilities that allow users to select desired inspection criteria for quality and safety issues, and to optimize wavelengths and thresholds to address changes in produce characteristics on-the-fly. A previously developed handheld sanitation inspection device for inspecting poultry processing areas will serve as the basis for the development of an enhanced device for inspection of produce processing surfaces, and to enhance the efficacy of existing ATP survey methods by identifying sites for testing. Technology for using laser-induced fluorescence to detect fecal material in produce fields will be developed, as will a novel Raman hyperspectral macro-scale imaging system that can image large objects, such as fruits or vegetables.

Last Modified: 11/27/2014
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