Continuous and non-invasive microbial monitorization of juices, milk and liquid foods by high-sensitivity fluorescence on specific molecular targets
The production and packing processes of foods require control and evaluation of the potential development of microbial communities. Such control must be performed to avoid potential contaminations, pathogens or undesired microorganisms, or to check for the development and activity of desirable microbes. Besides, sampling can lead to contamination or negative effects on the process. To solve this problem, we propose a highly sensible method to monitor production and packing lines of juices, milk and any other liquid foods. The proposed method does not require either specialized personnel or access for collecting samples of foods. Once installed, it should be capable to evaluate continuously and indefinitely the presence and activity of microorganisms, both desirable and undesirable cells. To this aim, fluorometers of high sensibility function in mode multiwave. Each fluorescent channel will be determined by a wave length of excitation and another of emission. These channels will be designed to point to natural molecular targets. The selected targeted biomolecules will depend on the microorganisms of interest to be monitorized in relationship to the optical properties of the food process under study. The measurements will be carried out inserting monitoring points along the production system. The raw data will be processed by a computer which will provide both a complete and detailed report (all measurements and analyses) and a simple output format (adequate level or alarm depending on a pre-established index) so that both the expert and non-specialized can interpret the results. As primary examples and to show the viability of the project, the cases of production and packaging systems for orange juice and milk are proposed. The specificity of the proposed system and the integration of results is easily personalized to different processes of the food industry. It is important to highlight that the proposed system is non-invasive and it does not need any additional labeling, that is, it does not need continuous sampling which can cause negative effects on the food products. The objective of this proposal is to provide food industry with a continuous, practically indefinite, non-invasive, easy-to-use, economic and high sensitivity, microbial monitorization system.