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Development of a cost-efficient, precise and miniaturized sensor system (Nano-Spectrometer) for quality and process control in the food industry (FOOD-WATCH)
Start date: Aug 1, 2014, End date: Jul 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Quality assurance plays a key role in the food industry. Current control of safety and quality characteristics of the various products is carried out mainly by random sampling of the initial, intermediate and/or final products. However, this methodology does not allow immediate adjustments to the production process in case any negative quality features are detected and consequently large batches of non-conforming products often need to be disposed.Therefore this project aims to develop an innovative and affordable process and quality control system for industrial food production which allows for continuous quality measurement and process adjustment. The complete system consists on the one hand of an optic measurement unit and on the other hand of a software package for automatic monitoring, control, and adjustment of the production process which will furthermore be compatible with the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) method. The optic measurement unit uses sensors based on nano-spectrometry (Fabry-Pérot principle) to detect important process parameters. The complete Food-Watch system will in this project be developed for the application in bakeries, as bread is one of the most important staple foods in Europe. Important process parameters in the baking industry such as the degree of browning, caramelization, or temperature and humidity of the ambient air will be analyzed and the data used to adjust the baking process (temperature, humidity) in real-time through a feedback loop.An applied research approach involving several SME bakeries will not only ensure the compatibility of the new system with current technologies, but also raise the acceptance of the baking sector. Nevertheless, it is foreseen, that the to-be-developed technology in future can be adapted to other sectors in the food industry.
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