Food safety innovation wins Photonics21 award
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Food safety innovation wins Photonics21 award

A report on research into optical techniques to improve food safety by detecting possible cancer precursors in food has been awarded the €5,000 2017 Photonics21 Student Innovation Award.

Vrije Universiteit Brussel PhD student Lien Smeesters was awarded the Photonics21 Student Innovation Award, sponsored by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and Hamamatsu, at the Photonics21 annual meeting in Brussels, Belgium.

Smeesters used optical sensing techniques to non-invasively scan cooked potato fries and corn-based snacks. Several tonnes of products can be screened per hour, without the use of any chemical additives or dyes.

Smeesters said: “During the analytical process, when the food products are in free-fall they are scanned by laser.

“After the scanning, the data are processed, and contaminated or unwanted products can be immediately removed by the use of a burst of air. We can successfully classify the healthy and contaminated food kernels with an accuracy that fulfils European food safety standards.”

Recently appointed Photonics21 president Aldo Kamper opened the two-day event. He emphasised the findings of the organisation’s newly published impact report on the Photonics Public Private Partnership (PPP).

The report shows that in the past few years the PPP has helped stimulate industry growth and create jobs, Kamper said. Photonics21 and the PPP will now “look a bit to the future”, he said, to consider the priorities for the next three years through 2020 and beyond to the FP9 framework, the successor to Horizon 2020.