Portable Analytical Chemistry.

Project: PhD

Project Details


The increasing demand for food and feed products is stretching the capacity of the food value chain to the extent that in the forthcoming years it will reach a limit. Moreover, the food industry needs to comply to ever more stringent standards for food and feed safety, and other sharpened guidelines. Achieving food safety along the entire food value chain requires fast, easy and accessible monitoring of food contaminants. However, to date samples are often taken at the production location and then sent to an accredited laboratory for analysis. Analysis is performed with high-end instrumentation, after extensive sample preparation, which can take days. Therefore, there is a pressing challenge to translate laboratory-based procedures into a rapid and truly on-site device suited for non-experts. This challenge includes (i) sample acquisition & extraction, (ii) selective capture & enrichment, (iii) detection and (iv) interpretation. Here, a solution is proposed to tackle this challenge in the context of the analysis of a potent mycotoxin, deoxynivalenol (DON) from wheat samples, and first results will be discussed. Sample acquisition and extraction were integrated into a modular device by which the user can perform laboratory procedures such as weighing, grinding and extraction on-site. Several interconnectable modules were envisioned that can process hard or soft food commodities (Fig. 1, (i)). To achieve this objective, rapid prototyping using 3D-printing was applied to design the modules. These designs are tested for compatibility with standard laboratory procedures, by analyzing the particle size distributions of processed wheat and determining extraction efficiency by LC-MS/MS. Next, the selective capture and enrichment of deoxynivalenol was achieved using paper-based microfluidics and was demonstrated using IR sample assessment. Here, an immunoaffinity zone on a paper substrate is used to selectively enrich deoxynivalenol (Fig.1 (ii)). In order to obtain chemical information from the enrichment zone, mid-infrared spectroscopy was used. Such detection of the analyte on a paper substrate requires careful design of methodology. Criteria were established for the detection of deoxynivalenol on a selective paper substrate, as a framework for a standardized mid-infrared spectroscopy detection, exploiting ATR-FTIR (Fig.1 (iii)). This is the first demonstration of the discrimination of DON on a paper substrate. We aim to achieve a proof-of-concept for the on-paper detection of DON, extracted from a real-life wheat sample, around the maximum residue level (MRL) using multivariate data analysis (Fig. 1 (iv)). The established framework can be adjusted for the detection of other types of mycotoxins as well. In the future, this framework can be implemented with miniaturized MIR techniques that are developed within the EU PhotonFood project, as a novel approach for food contaminant detection. The proposed concept, of hyphenating sample acquisition and extraction, with paper-based enrichment and miniaturized mid-infrared spectroscopy is a promising solution for the integration of the entire ‘sample-to-result’ procedure into one device to tackle the challenge of fast, easy and accessible food safety monitoring.
Effective start/end date1/07/21 → …


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