• Advanced sensing technologies and modelling for sulfur compounds in food cold chain traceability
The Client : Javna agencija za raziskovalno dejavnost RS
Project type: Bilateral projects
Project duration: 2017 - 2018
  • Description

Traceability and cold chain solutions still remain a serious challenge for researchers and companies in terms of food quality and consumers safety all over the world. The ability to identify the past or current location of an item, as well as to know an item's history and handling conditions are important for locating defective or unsafe food and food products to remove them quickly and easily from shelves. This reduces the negative economic impact, and can validate the presence or absence of attributes important to consumers at the point of sale, especially for perishable food products. Many wireless identification and sensing devices are directly accessible over the internet and support collection of data during the traceability and cold chain processes. Usually, the large amount of data is sent to special data warehouses to be later analysed and used in management systems. The modified atmosphere techniques and preservation technologies coupling with cold chain have been approved themselves as key tools to prevent spoilage and prolong shelf life for the fruit and meat during storage and transportation. There are many sulfur compounds in the cold chain logistics. The sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) is currently broadly adopted as the treatment of choice in many countries for prolonging shelf life of fruit such as the table grapes, and the hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is the spoilage gas for the meat such as the chicken. However, the sulfur compounds could make the food to be more perishable once the concentrations of which are lower or higher than the standard necessary/allowed level. On the other hand, the higher concentration may induce injuries in food, and sulfite residues pose a health risk for some individuals. Therefore, it is necessary and very important to integrate the advanced micro and nano sensing technologies and modelling to monitor the real time sulfur compounds gas and predict the shelf life of food precisely and accurately in food cold chain traceability. The aims of the collaboration are oriented towards: 1) research on novel technologies to improve the sensing and the precision data, 2) modelling for shelf life prediction and management, 3) the evaluation the proposed methods by developing the prototype system and 4) dissemination of collaborative results (seminars/presentations) to experts and other communities during exchange visits. The studies of best practices, exiting solutions, sensing technology and modelling methods in food cold chain traceability system will be performed. The weaknesses of traditional and available approaches will be identified to implement improved or novel sensing technologies and data modelling methods. The collaboration is based on complementarity of two groups and is divided in three main areas: 1. Development of the smart sensing technologies In cold chain, the integrated sensors, such as the temperature, relative humidity and preservation gas, could be applied to monitor the refrigerated environment in real time to prevent food products deterioration over time effectively, protecting food safety and avoiding their value decrease during the cold chain traceability. The wireless smart sensors of sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) based on the micro and nano sensor technologies would be developed to improve the sensors accuracy. The smart devices for the communication with the wireless sensors also would be designed to apply them in smart packaging for the quality monitoring and safety in food cold chain traceability. 2. Study of the shelf life prediction model and management in food cold chain The shelf life is very important to indicate the food quality in cold chain traceability. There are many preservation technologies coupled in the cold chain, such as the preservation gas sulfur dioxide (SO2) for fruits, and also the vacuum package for meat, to prolong the shelf life of the food. The project would analyse the microbiology of the food products to study the dynamic kinetic in cold chain traceability, build and optimize the shelf life prediction model based on the real time sensor data monitored by the smart micro and nano sensors which are deployed in food package to ensure the safety and quality of the food. 3. Design and development of the traceability platform The project would perform a real time monitoring based on smart sensing technology and integrate the grid for shelf-life prediction modelling implementation to trace the food quality and safety of food in cold chain. At least two kinds of the food cold chain, fruits and meat, could be chosen as the case studies to evaluate the performance of developed smart sensors, devices and traceability platform and improve them in further.

The Slovenian partner contributions are:

the research and implementation of services related to wireless sensing technologies implemented in the cold chain traceability,

shelf life prediction modelling based on data mining. Temperature, humidity and other sensor measurements will be automatically analysed, pre-processed and used for the extraction of hidden patterns and information and

sensory analysis of food to determine specifications and parameters of the food quality for the evaluation of results.

The main contributions of Chinese partner are:

the research and development of the wireless smart sensors of sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) based on the micro and nano sensor technologies,

testing and improving the stability and accurate of wireless (smart) sensors in laboratory and actual fruits or meat cold chain traceability,

study of the microbiological analysis of food products, nanotechnologies in smart packaging-optimization of shelf life in food cold chain traceability and

designing and integrating the grid for shelf-life prediction model implementation to improve the transparency and accuracy of the food quality and safety in cold chain traceability.