EU project to provide bacteria-testing systems for fruit

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Research, European commission

Researchers are close to completing their EU-funded work on
developing an appropriate sensor system to screen for lactic
acid-producing bacteria (LAB) in fruit juices.

The bacteria are thought to contribute to fouling and spoilage of fruit during storage. They are often not detected for several days, by which time the number has increased dramatically and the fruit is spoiled. Deterioration in the quality of the fruit during storage is the main cause of bacterial contamination. With the help of a biosensor, contamination can be quickly detected and the juice can be pasteurised if necessary. Researchers for the Quali-Juice project have therefore spent three years testing sensor systems that can detect quality deterioration earlier and prevent wastage and extra costs. The project is part of the EU's Sixth Framework Research Programme, which was adopted to strengthen the scientific and technological bases of industry and encourage international competitiveness while also promoting research activities. The research project ​ The Quali-Juice project, currently being overseen by the research service TTZ Bremerhaven, received a total budget of €1.6bn, of which €1bn was provided by the European Commission. Its aim is to reduce production costs by 3 per cent and to improve the productivity of the fruit juice industry by about 80 per cent by decreasing wastage. The results of the project are expected in October, but progress was announced at a recent meeting, which brought together the 17 international partners. Sensor systems ​ Both online and offline sensor systems have been tested under the project. However, researchers found juice manufacturers had a preference for offline systems as they are easier to install. "Three efficient offline systems are currently being examined in long-run test series at the facilities of those manufacturers who are participating in the project,"​ said Hauke Hilz from TTZ Bremerhaven. "Depending on requirements and investment cost, all three systems offer certain advantages." ​The sensor systems vary in cost from €500 to €7,000. However, they are aimed at guaranteeing quality assurance and translating into a fair price for the customer. October will see the end of the project, when various systems will become ready for use in the fruit juice industry. However, no-one from the research company was available to comment on the availability of the systems or how the food industry will gain access to them.

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