(Teleborsa) – It’s called “SafeFood”, ENEA made it and it is the first photoacoustic laser system against food adulteration available to food industries and large distribution chains. The prototype is able to trace, in real time, contaminants on untreated samples with the collection of small quantities of product. “The laser system was designed to be installed along production lines. It is easily transportable and is characterized by the speed of execution of the measurement which is carried out in a few minutes “, explained Luca Fiorani, ENEA researcher of the Diagnostics and Metrology Laboratory of the ENEA Research Center in Frascati.
The photoacoustic laser technique, in addition to its speed, stands out for its precision and reliability in the detection of some important fraud food, such as those involving fish, rice, fruit juices, oil, milk and spices, in particular oregano and saffron. ENEA researchers are already working on a according to prototype to be used directly in points of sale, from store shelves to market stalls. “The system we have developed, in fact, does not require the pre-treatment of the sample with chemical reagents and can therefore be easily used by non-specialized personnel, after a short training”, Fiorani underlined.
The first test bed for the prototype was the rapid revelation of saffron adulterato. Authentic saffron, obtained from a flower with three stigmas that are collected and dried, has a high cost and for this reason there is a risk that it will be cut with a dye, tartrazine, or with yellow spices such as turmeric. Starting from pure saffron, various contaminated samples were prepared, to reach concentrations of tartrazine and turmeric of 2%, in order to test the system’s ability to detect particularly low quantities. The results of the study were published in an article in the international journal Sensors.
ENEA researchers are also collaborating with two other companies in the field of antisophistication: Orsell, a distribution company for livestock feed products, e Tecnoalimenti, a consortium of technical-scientific research and innovation in the agri-food industry, made up of 31 companies, which represent about 12% of the sector’s sales in Italy, with the participation of the MIUR Applied Research Fund.