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Novel screening technologies ensure food safety

To increase the level of trust of the European consumer in the food supply chain, a large European consortium developed novel methodologies for screening and detecting chemical contaminants in food.
Novel screening technologies ensure food safety
Increasing consumer demands for healthier and safer foods necessitate the development of new technologies capable of detecting contaminants. However, the presence of chemical contamination in food is a complex issue. The EU-funded ‘New technologies to screen multiple chemical contaminants in food’ (Biocop) proposal came to address this issue and supply regulators, consumers and industry with long-term solutions to detect chemical contaminants.

The aim was to meet the European maximum residue level (MRL) targets and the agreed international standards of contaminants in meat, seafood, processed foods and cereals. By employing transcriptomics, proteomics and biosensors, the Biocop project set out to measure the effects of contamination rather than measure single target compound concentrations.

Consortium partners developed prototype biosensor assays for detecting antibiotics in chicken, egg and fish, toxins in shellfish and the presence of heavy metals. Furthermore, the transcriptomics platform verified that the concept of a fingerprinting strategy could be applied for the detection of dietary oestrogens and mycotoxins in baby food, soy milk, cow milk and cereals.

Another important achievement of the Biocop project was the development of rapid screening spectrometry-based technologies to detect residues of pesticides. Overall, the Biocop project findings have immediate application potential with direct and important consequences for human and animal health. This substantial improvement in chemical monitoring in food will also strengthen Europe’s competitiveness in the field.

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Food - Safety
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