Search research reports:
Engineering for Food Safety and Quality
Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering
The safety, economics and quality of processed food depend on the ability to tightly control the processing operation. This project focuses on the development of sensors technologies that can be used to measure the progress of the processing steps, control processing steps within prescribed limits, and predict endpoints.
2011 Project Description
Objective 1. The ability to use optical signatures to identify different pathogenic microbial species and to characterize and enhance the sensitivity of detection is the eventual goal of the laboratory tests. progress was made in development of a process of conducting focused research on a generic method for extracting microorganisms from any food matrix, development of an ultrasonic system for concentrating microorganisms in dilute solutions, and development of methods for optical identification of microorganisms using a hyperspectral image system.
Success in these three areas of development will lead to a standard protocol for microbial extraction from food matrices, the lowering of microbial detection levels in dilute solutions using ultrasonic concentration system, and an optical method for identification of microorganisms. The ability to differentiate microorganisms using hyperspectral identification is being tested with the goal of accelerating investigations into the most plausible technique.
Objective 1b. A sensor was developed which reduces the cost of monitoring the coagulation of milk products during enzymatic of acid induced coagulation processes. This invention relates to a sensor technology that does not require physical contact with the milk, thus it is referred to as a non-contact sensor.
Consequently the non-contact sensor should be considerably more cost effective for the smaller open vat applications. In addition, the sensor was shown to measure an excellent signal during the syneresis step of the cheese making process. If the same non-contact sensor can be used for both the coagulation and syneresis step, then the economic advantages of this technology would be very attractive.
Hyperspectral imaging could offer a very significant economical benefit for microbial identifications. A successful hyperspectral imaging would reduce the disposable cost of identifying microorganisms (currently $10, $50 or $100) and would speed their detection. The non-contact sensor will lower the expense of obtaining information on the status of coagulation processes.
The benefits of automatic determination of the endpoints of the coagulation step will be available to lower scale operations. in addition should the non-contact sensor be found useful for the syneresis step then the economic advantages of this technology would be very attractive.