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Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Testforall (FOOD SAFETY CONTROLS FOR ALL)

Reporting period: 2015-04-01 to 2015-09-30

In accordance to EU-DG Health and Consumer Protection, for consumers safety is the most important ingredient of their food. The Commission's guiding principle, primarily set out in the White Paper on Food Safety, is to apply an integrated approach from farm to table covering all sectors of the food chain, including feed production, primary production, food processing, storage, transport and retail sale.
It is important to remark that two of the Strategic Priorities of this White Paper are:
To consistently implement a farm to table approach in food legislation
To establish the principle that feed and food operators have primary responsibility for food safety.
Antibiotics are used in animals, not only for treatment, but also to prevent animals from developing diseases and, in some countries to promote their growth. For instance, 73% and 46% of all the antibiotics commercialized in the US and China, respectively, are used in the veterinary sector. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics in the primary sector can promote antibiotic resistant bacteria. This issue is considered by the World Health Organization as one of the three greatest threats to human health for the next decades. Therefore, control of antibiotic residues in food is a major concern for three main reasons, food safety (i.e. allergies), public health by increasing of antibiotics resistances and technological problems in manufacturing fermented food (i.e. cheese and yogurt production).
Unfortunately, there is a lack of suitable analytical systems for the primary sector (farms) and processors (slaughterhouses, dairies) to screen more than 50 authorized antibiotics substances in milk or meat. Although there are some screening tests available, these methods are designed for analysts. Farmers and food processors are focused on milk and dairy products production, but they are not experts in analytical techniques neither they wish to divert their activity from production. Current methods require one member of the staff to take care of the assay for few hours and to decide if milk is contaminated based on his/her trained but subjective reading of the test.
The objective of this project is to develop an easy-to-use and low cost solution to bring the food safety controls to all operators in the food chain.
The system will allow:
Farmers to do self-controls before supplying the milk to diaries or the livestock to slaughterhouses.
Slaughterhouses to do on-site controls of meat carcasses.
Dairies to screen antibiotics before processing the milk.
There were three major objectives blocks in this feasibility study: technical, commercial and financial feasibility studies. In the same way, the work package for Phase I was structured in several tasks:
Market study: A detailed analysis of the market, end-users preferences and competitors will be done in order to get the figures of the new system potential market in the main international markets, validation of the price acceptance by the future customers, main selling points, market share, position of our product against competitor´s, best commercial actions to introduce the final product.
Evaluation of industrial design and analysis of technical solutions to produce the system at an affordable cost: The study will provide a plan for the device development, persons in charge, first design of electronic and mechanic components and software, list of potential suppliers or partners and quotations of the individual new device components.
Technical feasibility study to improve the test methods: The work will provide the state of the art, identification of objectives, chronogram of research activities, researchers in charge and total budget divided in milestones.
Validation and analysis of IPR and legal issues: The study will provide a validation of the state of the art of patents and a review of all legal issues.
Future applications of the system to other assays: A market analysis will provide a list of methods in the food, veterinary and clinical fields that can be adapted to our new device. The report will include an evaluation of technical viability and market opportunities.
Elaboration of a business plan with the information from previous points: The document will include benefits, strengths, weak points, opportunities and threats of the project; the strategy to develop the project, budged, financial plan, resources needed and a chronogram of the objectives and milestones.
The main objective of the Project is to implement the principle “from farm to table”, where all the actors in the food chain must participate in food safety assurance. In consequence, there must be analytical solutions adapted to all, from the smallest farmer to the biggest diary. Thus, the new system must be:
Cheap: Affordable and cost-effective for all operators of the food chain.
Easy-to-use: Adapted to non-qualified personnel.
Reliable & objective: Guarantying the best performance of the assay.
The new concept developed by ZEULAB fulfils the above claims. The combination of a high performance antibiotic screening test, that detects around 50 substances in one assay, together with a smart device for automation of the assay provides the best solution adapted to all operators in the food chain. We expect that to bring us growth on a factor x3 in turnover and employees
At societal level, The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the antibiotic resistance as one of the three greatest threats to human health for the next decades. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics accelerates the development of bacteria resistance to antibiotics. Illnesses that were easily treated in the past will challenge the modern medicine. The usual antibiotics might stop to be effective.
Veterinary sector is the major user of these medicines (73% of antibiotics commercialized in USA) due to the great benefits for animal production. The direct connection between the primary sector and the food chain represents a high risk to find contaminated food with antibiotic residues or even resistance bacteria. Thus, TEST4ALL will enforce the Principle from farm to table.