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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Research Project #430500

Research Project: Development of Sensing Methods and Technologies for Rapid Screening of Foods for Microbial, Chemical, and Biological Contaminants

Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-42000-020-02-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Apr 1, 2016
End Date: Mar 31, 2021

The objective is to develop and validate user-friendly analytical sensing methods and technologies for targeted and non-targeted rapid screening of foods for microbial, chemical, and biological contaminants. The aim of the research is to design and develop prototypes of transportable devices that can scan large surface areas of foods for microbial, chemical, and biological contaminants with high throughput capacities suitable for use in commercial food processing facilities.

Deliberate profit-driven chemical contamination in dry food powders has become a major safety concern worldwide. The consequences of such incidents have included illness and death for humans, companion animals, and agricultural livestock animals. Such deliberate food contamination, as well as the possibility of accidental contamination of food ingredients, shows the need for rapid screening methods that can be used by food processors to effectively detect low level contamination in large amounts of food. There remains a need to develop screening methods suitable for large-scale use by the food industry. Several line-scan imaging technologies and methods will be evaluated to address detection of food contaminants and authentication of food ingredients for human consumption. The core sensing technologies that include macro scale line-scan Raman chemical imaging, gradient-temperature dependent Raman spectroscopy, and hyperspectral imaging will be investigated.