The new device will detect carcinogenic food fungi

Identifying highly carcinogenic toxins that occur naturally in most common crops can soon be solved through groundbreaking research that exploits the fluorescent properties of aflatoxins.

Aflatoxin is present in a wide range of foods, especially cereals, grains and nuts and is known to be highly carcinogenic. Since they occur naturally there is no way to eradicate them from the food chain.

Instead, suppliers and manufacturers of food items specifically at risk for aflatoxins focus on quickly identifying them. Dr Stephen Euston of Harriott-Watt University in Scotland is leading a project to test the feasibility of a new device designed by Edinburgh Biosciences, which will detect aflatoxin much faster and more accurately than the current method.

The focus is on making the device easy to use, with simple and instant results that don’t require a degree of chemistry to be able to understand. This will potentially eliminate the need for expensive lab technicians to spend days analyzing samples hundreds of miles away. “The rapid and global delivery of aflatoxins at every stage of the supply system is a matter of great concern.

These occur naturally in some crops, but they can find other ways in the food chain through the feedstock of contaminated animals, ”Euston said.
“At the moment, detection relies on a time-consuming process that involves removing toxins from food and then transferring them to a lab for testing and detection.

Some methods allow food to be tested then and there, in the field or at the cargo dock. This leads to delays and costs, which go to consumers. Aflatoxins are strongly fluorescent, which we are using to our advantage, ”he said. “We are using the latest light emitting diode (LED) with a new generation interference filter to create a highly sensitive device that will detect fluorescence and quickly detect aflatoxins.

Our devices will detect aflatoxins at even lower levels. The device will be of immense benefit to farmers, transport agents, port inspectors, buyers, importers, exporters and producers of food for people and animals, ”he said.

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