Project: Robotic Identification of Pathogens In Slaughterhouses

BACKGROUND AND NEED_x000D_In Europe, guidelines in EC2073/2005 and ISO17604 documents define requirements to test carcasses for pathogenic organisms before release from the abattoir to the food chain. Actual test volumes performed and the enforcement of legislation varies widely in different Member States. Routine testing is not performed in the majority of abattoirs today as it is perceived as uneconomical. Where testing does form a part of the meat processing procedures, this usually involves labour intensive carcass swabbing. ELIVIA in France (a large food processing company) are running routine manual swabbing but only 5 carcasses a day can be tested due to the time it takes to swab carcasses. As a consequence, the bulk of testing is carried out on finished product but according to Food Safety Magazine, 63% of plant QA/QC managers indicated that their company holds inventory while awaiting micro results. This is expensive as many products must be refrigerated. When asked for their most desired improvement in micro testing, over 90% of managers cited more rapid results as their biggest wish._x000D_New legislation is imminent across the EU, The Directorate General of Health & Consumer Protection, Brussels highlights that ‘micro-organisms that are of increasing zoonotic importance in modern animal husbandry systems, like Salmonella and Campylobacter, are readily transmitted from one carcass to the next by the various manipulations required to be performed during the traditional meat inspection procedures.’ As such, abattoirs face the issue of how to perform carcass testing quickly, efficiently and cost effectively. _x000D__x000D_Our proposed fully automated robotic swab sampling and immunological assay described in this application will enable abattoirs across the EU to install a cost effective fully integrated system which will remove many of the current barriers to performing carcass testing._x000D__x000D_TECHNICAL GOAL To reconfigure current in-house technology to develop a complete system for robotically sampling carcasses in abattoirs and testing for the pathogenic organisms Salmonella and E.coli O157:H7, by a rapid immunological assay that can provide results in 6 to 7 hrs._x000D_TECHNICAL BACKGROUND Current systems involve manual collection of samples and testing using either traditional microbiological culture techniques or other technologies which can take up to 5 days to provide results. This manual collection requires dedicated personnel, limits the number of carcass samples that can be tested and slows down the processing line. This adds operational cost (~€29,000/year) to abattoirs and they tend to focus on some of the most critical carcasses (showing an evisceration incident for instance)._x000D_MARKET APPLICATION The complete system of automated sampling and rapid testing will be easily installed into abattoirs. Using software that can be integrated into current abattoir systems and installing robotics on the sampling line, it will reduce human error in sampling method and carcass traceability. The rapid testing will allow more contaminated meat to be re-called prior to entering the food chain, giving a reduction in the public health impact of pathogenic disease. For abattoirs, the system will reduce the skilled manpower required for sample collection and processing, with estimated system pay back within 3 years. In addition, rapid testing will allow faster carcass turn around, reduced working capital and reduced building costs (largest proportion ~35% of abattoir floor area is used for chilling/cold storage which is expensive to install and has high energy usage/running costs)._x000D__x000D_In summary, the increasing need for food safety and the requirement for abattoirs to test carcasses for pathogenic organisms prior to release into the food chain has led to the generation of the current project concept. Our robotic sampling/rapid assay will be installed in abattoirs and will:_x000D_- Save the average abattoir ~€44,000/year_x000D_- Allow earlier product recall (in 2008, 23 people died from an pathogen outbreak in meat – company forced to pay €35.5 million in damages) _x000D_- Improve meat safety and quality for consumers (an estimated €6 billion in medical costs are spent in the EU on treatment for foodborne pathogens)_x000D_- Enable better compliance with EU regulations (EC2073/2005) and EU objectives to reduce Salmonella and E.coli O157:H7 outbreaks _x000D__x000D_Our project consortium comprises:_x000D_1) Solus - specialise in the rapid detection of food borne pathogens and associated antigens using innovative assays_x000D_2) Peacock - an engineering company with capabilities in electronics design, PCB layout, embedded software, machine vision, PC software and mechanical design_x000D_3) FD APS - markets a range of testing kits to food companies and abattoirs throughout the EU_x000D_4) BAC - an organisation specialising in all aspects of microbiological food testing_x000D__x000D__x000D_

Acronym RIPIS (Reference Number: 6402)
Duration 01/11/2011 - 31/12/2014
Project Topic A fully integrated automated robotic swab sampling and immunological assay system for installation in abattoirs to test carcasses for pathogenic organisms. This will decrease abattoir costs, improve meat safety/quality, increase product shelf-life and enable compliance with European regulations.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 6

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
4 Peacock Technology Ltd Partner United Kingdom
4 Bioadvantage Consulting Partner France
4 Food Diagnostics ApS Observer Denmark
4 Solus Scientific Solutions Ltd Coordinator United Kingdom