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PROVIDING MILK SUPPLY CHAIN WITH A RAPID, PORTABLE AND COST EFFECTIVE BIOSENSOR FOR MULTI-PATHOGEN DETECTION IN MILK

Starting date: 01/09/2006 ------ Duration: 36 months

The European dairy industry represents one of the most important sectors within the European agri-food industry, and comprises over 1.8 million SMEs in EU-25. Dairy Associations are concerned about the presence of diseases which are highly contagious and dangerous to human and animal health, such as brucellosis, Johne's disease and mastitis, in the European herd. The pathogens provoking these diseases are present in raw milk and, some, even in pasteurised milk. Nowadays, in most EU countries official pathogen detection is performed via annual invasive blood analyses. This is clearly insufficient as in the meantime any infections on farms remain undetected and spread. The latter implies significant losses in production, veterinary treatments, abortions and ill-cow slaughters. Apart from the dramatic impact on farmer's income, the absence of detection also poses the risk that contaminated milk is distributed for human consumption until the next official blood sampling. SME farms have neither the resources nor the time to invest in costly surveillance programmes. The competitiveness of SME dairy farms is thus at stake.

Enabling simple, affordable on-farm controls would empower SME farmers to produce safe milk and certify quality, improving thus their competitiveness. The inherent data generated will also reduce economic losses resulting from delayed detection. Moreover, these controls will help to keep disease outbreaks under control by early detection of their origin, thus safeguarding the health and safety of European consumers.

The objective of this project is to develop a rapid multipathogen analyser for detecting the most common pathogens in milk using an innovative biosensor based on a DNA-hybridisation method and using Surface Plasmon Resonance as detection technique. The system will be designed in an open way to enable easy expansion of the number of detectable pathogens.
 
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