Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INSPECTO (INSPECTO: A disruptive portable device with an innovative Method for Pesticides and contaminants Detection in Food)
Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2018-04-30
Still, more than 97% of European food products contain pesticide residues, according to analyses carried out by the EU’s national authorities (Source); in fact, annual compilations showed that of the 84,341 samples of produce from conventional agriculture analysed, 97.2% contained traces of one or more of 774 pesticides (Source).
This is a global problem. More than 85% of fruit and vegetables in the U.S. contain pesticide residues according to the U.S. FDA. The Center for Disease Control & Prevention states that the average American has 29 different types of pesticides in his/her body. Apart from pesticides other contaminants must be controlled in the food chain; undesirable bacteria and mould can produce toxins, volatile compounds and a wide variety of chemicals that are hazardous for human and animal health if consumed, inhaled or contacted.
THE BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY: National enforcement authorities perform controls on farms but also; border controls, during transportation, on food processing plants, wholesalers, supermarkets, retailers and restaurants… So, to prevent legal or quality incidents, Agrifood chain stakeholders (farmers, processing industry, retailers…) must also perform internal controls. Currently there is no in-situ, real time & accurate means to identify and quantify the presence of pesticides and contaminants in food produce.
The current practice to identify pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables is through either gas or liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, a lab method that requires bulky equipment, expensive maintenance and expert chemists. In 2016, the America’s food industry had a $55.5 billion safety problem according to Fortune magazine, because of produce recalls and money spent on food testing. The business opportunity lies in coming up with a cheaper method and a smaller device that could be used for field testing, in each of the transaction steps of the agrifood chain.
OUR GAME CHANGING SOLUTION: A portable, accurate, automatic and affordable device that can detect pesticides and other contaminants in food at parts per million (PPM) and parts per billion (PPB) levels, in few seconds, by using our own disruptive method based on RAMAN-SERs spectroscopy.
RAMAN spectroscopy and SERS, and added new developments allow quick, simple and affordable detection of contaminants in food (United States Provisional Patent Application No. 62/436,571). The POC was developed in conjunction with input from food industry professionals.
OUR BUSINESS MODEL: INSPECTO offers three services; (1) sale/lease of the Inspecto’s device & licensing, (2) refill of Inspecto’s disposable SERS cartridges, and (3) subscription to Inspecto’s data analisys.62/436,571).
Inspecto's initial activity was to learn about the current testing for contaminants, conducted by the food industry in Europe. By engaging with the different ""links"" in the food production chain (growers, handlers, retailers, producers, regulators, labs) we now understand the scope of the food testing market and its importance.
Firstly, we have gathered that the food safety and food testing for contaminants markets are growing on all fronts:
¬ Amount of testing conducted
¬ Regulatory demand
¬ Consumer demand
Secondly, Inspecto has learned that while the entire food production chain has a need for the solution Inspecto is offering: Immediate, portable, low cost, data driven and automatic detection of food, the most immediate market segment Inspecto can penetrate is the large food producers. In addition, the food production segment is the most active and experienced when it comes to engaging with innovation.
Proceeding these insights, Inspecto has established working relationships with several large food producers for potential collaboration regarding its first detection capabilities, expected to be commercialized early 2020. This collaboration involves future pilots, enabling Inspecto to develop its product according to the industry's needs.
¬ Acrylamide- a contaminant associated with causing cancer, regulated in the EU as of April 2018.
¬ Ochratoxin A- a contaminant common in major produce (maize, rice, wheat…), associated with liver disease.
Current detection solutions involve the following shortcomings:
¬ Cost (approx. 100$ per scan per contaminant) (Included: Consumables, operation, storage, electric consumption & maintenance)
¬ Time to results
Due to this, Inspecto has established that its business/pricing will be cheaper by scale compared with current lab testing, with every scan estimated at 5$.
Furthermore, as Inspecto has already developed its POC, filed for IP protection and has a capable R&D team on track to meet our milestone of a working pilot in Q2 of 2019, it is our belief that both technical and financial feasibility have been overwhelmingly proven.