Agriculture & Food Processing
The 15 leading foodborne pathogens cause an estimated economic damage of $17.5 billion each year in the US alone. Only Salmonella infestations account for $4.1 billion each year with over one million cases and close to 400 deaths (USDA: “Cost Estimates for Foodborne Illnesses”, 2018).
No one is immune to infection from Salmonella, but infants, young children, senior citizens, and people with a compromised immune system are particularly prone to be affected. In immuno-compromised people, the gastrointestinal disease can lead to significant complications.
State-of-the-art methods for pathogen detection during production are slow, lab-bound, and deliver only spotlight data depending on the intervals of probing and the availability of laboratory capacity. Thus, product contaminations or process issues are usually confirmed hours or days after the fact which makes it impossible to intervene based on analytical results. Food manufacturers cannot delay delivery until test results are available.
Established technologies also have critical shortcomings in industrial or mass market applications. A major drawback is the complex sample preparation required by all common technologies. This by itself can take hours or days and can only be performed in a lab, not in the production area. In addition, PCR and Maldi-TOF need several hours to process a sample. Raman and SPR are relatively fast, but require a an sophisticated sample chamber which is not feasible for an inline application. Finally, the total cost of an analytic system is in the range of several ten thousand Euros.
SpheroScan is inline capable and can be deployed at different production steps. Its µBead sensor technology reduces the need for sample preparation significantly and economic to operate as a permanent monitoring system.