dispatches from Rapid Methods Europe

Research round-up: Rapid Methods Europe 2016 special

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

FoodSmartphone, MyToolBox, LAMP at RME

Related tags Type i and type ii errors Escherichia coli

FoodQualityNews went to Amsterdam to look at the posters that presented a sample of the latest research and work in food safety and quality.

Exhibitors included AB SCIEX, BioDot, bioMerieux, Bio-Rad, Generic PCR solutions, Merck, MicroLAN, Qiagen, Randox Food Diagnostics, R-Biopharm, rqmicro and Scienion.

FoodQualityNews was a media partner at the event which looked at the microbiological and chemical analysis of food, feed and water.

EU projects

FoodSmartphone​ proposes the development of smartphone-based (bio)analytical sensing and diagnostics tools for on-site rapid pre-screening of food quality and safety parameters and wireless data transfer to servers of stakeholders.

The 48 month project starts in January 2017 and is co-ordinated by RIKILT Wagenigen University and Research. It is funded by the Horizon 2020 framework programme.

When presented during the conference, 11 vacancies remained for PhD student projects.

MyToolBox ​involves 23 partners from 11 countries and is co-ordinated by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna.

The project includes academia, farmers, technology SMEs, food industry and policy stakeholders to develop novel interventions to achieve a 20-90% reduction in crop losses due to fungal and mycotoxin contamination.

It will provide recommended measures to the end users in a web-based Toolbox.

The project, which runs until February 2020, will focus on small grain cereals, maize, peanuts and dried figs, applicable to agricultural conditions in EU and China.

Crop losses using existing practices will be compared with those after novel pre-harvest interventions including genetic resistance to fungal infection, cultural control, use of novel biopesticides (organic-farming compliant), competitive biocontrol treatment and development of forecasting models to predict mycotoxin contamination.

Research into post-harvest measures including real-time monitoring during storage, sorting of crops using vision-technology and milling technology will enable cereals with higher mycotoxin levels to be processed without breaching regulatory limits in finished products.

Work into the effects of baking on mycotoxin levels will provide better understanding of process factors used in risk assessment.

LAMP and microarrays

Rosario Romero​ of Fera Science presented her work on developing Loop-mediated isothermal AMPlification of DNA (LAMP) assays for rapid and direct detection of Salmonella, E. coli O157 and Campylobacter as part of a series of speed presentations.

The testing procedure involved surface swabbing of boot or carcasses, swab resuspension in 10ml of PBST, aliquot taken out, 85 degrees Celsius cells lysis for five minutes and 5ml transferred to LAMP tube which takes 20-40 minutes, making results available within an hour of sample collection.

Romero said work is underway to produce a system capable of detecting multiple pathogens in a single sample using the LAMP assays.

She acknowledged support from DEFRA, Bernard Matthews, Faccenda, Innovate UK, OptiSense and RAFT solutions.

The BioSensing and Diagnostics​ (BSD) group from Wageningen University and Research develops rapid microarray (immuno)assay formats.

It held a joint workshop with Scienion, a supplier of instrumentation for low volume liquid handling, at the event.

Microarray-ELISA and slide-based assays from 64 to 196 spots per well/pad with an example being virulence genes of VTEC (E. coli O157) have images readers commercially available.

Lateral flow/flow through microarray immunoassays from 15 to 25 spots per strip have a flatbed scanner or smartphone for quantification of data but a dedicated reader is being developed as is a video-reader and software.

The group said a Scienion sciFLEXARRAYER S3 can print droplets down to 50 picoliter on nitrocellulose and glass/polystyrene slides. Microarrays are printed on lateral flow membranes down to 1nL and in wells of microtiter plates (300pL) for multi-analyte diagnostics.

It added by applying microarray diagnostics antibody costs can be decreased while increasing the number of antigens per lateral flow test or per well in ELISA.

BSD is also working on biosensors with fluorescent or label-free detection principles.

Commercial test kits

BIOTECON Diagnostics​ showed a validation of its foodproof Yeast and Mold quantification LyoKit, 5’Nuclease for quantification of yeasts and molds in dairy products.

They said the commercial test kit showed results in less than four hours equivalent to or better than the ISO 6611 method.

The reaction mixes in the foodproof LyoKits are pre-filled and lyophilized, DNA can be added to the reaction tube.

Additional controls to prevent false positives (such as Uracil-N-Glycosylase) and false negatives (internal controls) are included.

A PCR method from bioMerieux was evaluated in a method comparison test to the standard culture method, based upon ISO 6579:2002 and ISO 11290-1:1996 with regard to relative sensitivity, specificity, level of detection, speed and ease of use.

The Ghent University​ team, partly financed by the firm, said Gene-Up showed comparable results with the reference method in challenging matrixes prone to PCR inhibition or challenging for recovery of low levels of pathogens.

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