Testing Food for purity & freshness as well as freedom form disease & decay
Applications in Cultivation; Food Processing; and Crop Storage
Fruit & Vegetables
RoboScientific has worked extensively with industry partners & researchers to give early detection of diseases in plants; to improve yeild and to monitor foe decay or disease in storage. The crops worked on include Mushrooms; Onions; Beetroot; Swedes; Potatoes; Brocolli; Tomatoes and some Citrus Fruits. This work has also led to investigations of the factors influencing production yeild including environmental issues and the quality of the compost or soil. A example of disease detection in swedes can be seen HERE
It is possible for us to monitor vegatables from the time of picking the crop to its eventual decay taking sample measurements every few hours. This enables us to build a picture of the crop's post harvest life-cycle which could lead to dynamic "Best Before" dating leading to significat reductions in the amount of food wasted. It also means that crops can be monitored in storage to check for abnormal behaviour such as rotting caused by disease or the wrong environment.
Great care has to be taken in the manufacture of pood to ensure that no impurities or pathogens contaminate the product & so put at risk the end customer's enjoyment of the product or their health. The roboScientific technology can batch test samples from a production line to give quick detection of known predictable problems such as moulds or fungus infections.
The technology can also be used to assist processing plants in their regular audits of hygene conditions; checking for the presence of bacteria such as Listeria; salmonella & E-coli and so confirming the effectiveness of the deep cleaning process.
Wine and Drinks
Most drinks, especially alcoholic drinks, have a recognisable smell; the bouquet of wine. Changes in the smell are indicative of changes in the manufacturing cycle caused by impurities; changes to the process; different ingredients or poor blending of the constituent parts. In those cases where the manufacturer has a specific formulation in mind samples from batches can be tested against a reference sample to detect differences, even when those differences are quite small.
Alternatively when a batch of wine or whiskey is blended to a taster's preference samples from the entire production batch can be measured to ensure that the batch maintains a close adherence to that preferred taste and smell. We have participated in feasibility trials to demonstrate the efficacy of this novel quality control technique with wine; whiskey; and a number of non-alcoholic drinks.
Food storage and Waste
There are a number of diseases that can cause crops to go rotten in storage. In the case of potatoes these include: Blackleg/bacterial soft rot (Pectobacterium atrosepticum, P. carotovorum, Dickeya sp.); Blight (Phytophthora infestans); Dry rot (Fusarium sp.); Gangrene (Phoma exigua var. foveata); Pink rot (Phytophthora erythroseptica) whilst diseases which cause cosmetic blemishes include: Black Dot; Black Scurf; Common Scab; Powdery Scab; Silver Scurf and Skin Spot. The same is true of other crops such as onions and white cabbage. Usually such crops have to be stored up to 10 months to ensure supply between harvests. In the USA alone some 7.5% of stored potatoes are lost to rot every year in recent times (National Potato Council. Potato Statistical Yearbook) and in monetary terms to amounts to about $290m (Crop Values 2016 Summary.USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service). RoboScientific instrumentation is able to give an early indication of rot occuring in the warehouse allowing early interventions and a minimisation of economic losses. We are now working with several industry partners to field trial this technology.