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  • 20080701 OPTOLABCARD results

OPTOLABCARD results have been published in the ICT Results web page. ICT Results is an editorial service created for the European Commission to showcase EU-funded ICT research and activities.

Detecting food-borne diseases such as campylobacter and salmonella long before they enter the food chain would help ensure that the dinner on your table is safe to eat.

There is no quick and simple way to detect infectious bacteria on farms, or even in food processing and distribution plants. Samples have to be sent to labs for testing, a process that can take hours or days.

But what if tests for campylobacter and salmonella could be run on the spot in as little as half an hour? The result, say European researchers, would undoubtedly be a dramatic improvement in food safety. Campylobacter and salmonella are particularly nasty bacteria that are responsible for most cases of food poisoning around the world.

The idea of a lab-on-a-chip, a device small enough for someone to carry around but able to perform many of the tests normally carried out in a full-sized laboratory, has been around ever since microelectromechanical systems (mems) technology made it possible to put sensors, fluid channels and optical components into a small space.

However, the costs of producing such a system and the failure of many developers to incorporate a means of preparing samples on the spot has meant that few have gone into commercial use.

The right balance between relevant, feasible and efficient research.
IKERLAN-IK4, Technological Research Centre. | J.M. Arizmendiarrieta N2 | 20500 Arrasate-Mondragon | Spain | jmruano@ikerlan.es