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Milk quality antibiotics sensor

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MILQAS (Milk quality antibiotics sensor)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2016-05-01 al 2017-04-30

When milk farmers as necessary treat their cows for e.g. mastitis using antibiotics, the milk from treated cows cannot be delivered to a dairy company due to antibiotics residues in the milk. Such residues are both a health problem for consumers and also prevents bacterial processing of the milk for cheese and yogurt formation. However, treated cows need to be milked anyway, and occasionally this milk is by mistake mixed with milk from the healthy cows, thereby, contaminating the whole batch. Furthermore, when the milk truck picks up milk from the farm, the milk is mixed with milk from several other farms contaminating the whole truck load. Tests for antibiotics residues are usually performed at the dairies when the trucks arrive with the milk. If the whole truck load is contaminated by milk from just one single cow the whole load needs to be discarded and the truck send for special cleaning causing delays in the next milk pick-ups. The fine for one such mistake is in the order of 10.000 Euro and the lost milk represents a considerable energy waste. This could be prevented by testing for antibiotic residues before pickup at the farms rather than at the dairies. However, the presently used methods for measuring antibiotics are not practically feasible for use directly at the farms. A solution which can measure all relevant antibiotics fast, reliably, and directly at the farm can prevent about 80% of all milk waste caused by antibiotics.
PlastiSens Aps is developing sensor chips, which will be able to measure different types of antibiotics together with a handheld reader evaluating the results within 1-2 min, thus, giving an almost instant answer. The sensor chip is made with inexpensive disposable materials and is intended for one-time use. Each chip contains several micro sensors each measuring different types of antibiotics simultaneously. The chips are connected to a handheld reader device for processing the data and evaluating whether there are antibiotics residues above the legal limits or not. The data are sent to a smart phone where the details of the measurements are given, such as measured antibiotics levels, error messages, GPS data for farmer identification, time stamp etc. All data are stored in a database accessible to the dairy company personnel. The measurement is fast enough for a milk truck drivers to carry it out before loading the milk into the truck without considerable delays.
Besides the financial benefits, measuring close to the source of antibiotics may prevent spreading of the antibiotics residues and, thereby, limiting the risk of development of antibiotics resistant bacteria.
The sensors are developed with continuous input on desired functionality from Arla Foods amba, the world’s 7th largest dairy company. Field tests will also be carried out together with Arla Foods amba.
The technique for measuring antibiotics is in principle not limited to measuring in milk, and will at later stages be adapted for use in other markets within veterinary and foods production.
The antibiotics sensor system consists of four parts, which presently are at different levels of development. Those are:
- Low cost disposable biosensors for detection of all antibiotics families used in European milk production.
- A battery powered handheld reader with connections to the antibiotics sensors reading and evaluating the detected signal.
- A smart-phone application for Android and IOS with connection to the reader device, displaying the obtained data for fast and easy evaluation directly at the milk farm.
- A database connected to the smart-phone application for easy data access from the dairies.
In addition to the technical development work, upcoming field tests have been coordinated with one of the world’s largest dairy companies.

The whole electrode system is printed on a polymer foil. The printing process is cheap and easily scalable and only very small amounts of the more expensive materials for electrodes and connections needs to be used. Additionally, a reader device has been developed to a state where small scale production can be initialized. The outside of the reader with a sensor chip inserted is displayed in fig. 1.
Measuring antibiotics levels close to their source has several advantages. One is less milk waste, which also means less energy consumed due to a more efficient milk production. On the same note the climate effect originating from milk production is decreased. The major part of greenhouse gasses from cattle is methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Both of these have a greenhouse effect contribution of 25-30 times that of CO2. In Denmark, production of one liter of milk emits 0.9 kg of CO2 equivalents regarding greenhouse effect. There are about 150-200 incidents per year alone in Denmark of milk trucks carrying antibiotics contaminated milk and each truck is loaded with approximately 30 ton of milk. This in total cause an emission of approximately 5.400 ton of CO2 equivalents per year in Denmark only. Denmark has the on average most efficient and second largest milk farms in Europe. This means that the greenhouse effect from 1 L of milk produced will be higher in most other countries. Danish milk production is about 4% of the EU15 countries (~3.5% of the EU28 countries) according to 2015 statistics. Thus, within the EU15 countries there is a potential of saving at least 130.000 ton of CO2 equivalents per year by bringing the antibiotics measurement to all EU15 farms. Great Britain, which together with Sweden probably will be the second market where the PlastiSens ApS technology is introduced, has a milk production of about three times that of Denmark.

Additionally, introducing the technology has a significant economic impact. When a milk truck has been found to be contaminated, the farmer with antibiotics in their milk is asked to pay for the all the milk in the truck as well as for cleaning of the truck's milk tank. This adds up to about 10.000 Euro, a quite considerable amount for most farmers.
Antibiotics use and spread of antibiotics through food intake is a great concern as antibiotic resistant bacteria is an increasing problem with fatal consequences, especially in pig farms and in the human digestive system. Detection of the antibiotics close to the source can limit the spreading of antibiotics and thereby the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

PlastiSens is not aware of any other feasible solutions for monitoring antibiotics contamination at the farm level, and collaborating leading dairy companies are stating that they have not been presented with any other technology than that of PlastiSens ApS, which can measure antibiotics fast and simple enough for them to be practically usable at the farms.
The whole system, that is reader device with a sensor chip plugged in for measurement.