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Sensors for food chain tracing - hyperspectral imaging, acoustics and robotics


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Professor Megan Povey
School of Food Science and Nutrition
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Consumers and governments are increasingly interested in the safety, authenticity<br /> and quality of food commodities. This has driven attention towards non-invasive sensing techniques used for rapid analyzing these commodities. This paper provides an overview of the state of the art in, and available alternatives for, food assurance based on non-invasive sensing techniques. The main food quality traits of interest using non-invasive sensing techniques are sensory characteristics, chemical composition, physicochemical properties, health-protecting properties, nutritional characteristics and safety. A wide range of non-invasive sensing techniques, from optical, acoustical, electrical, to nuclear magnetic, x-ray, biosensor, microwave and terahertz, are organized according to physical principle. Some of these techniques are now in a period of transition between experimental and applied utilization and several sensors and instruments are reviewed. With continued innovation and attention to key challenges, such non-invasive sensors and biosensors are expected to open up new exciting avenues in the field of portable and wearable wireless sensing devices and connecting with mobile networks, thus finding considerable use in a wide range of food assurance applications. The need for an appropriate regulatory framework is emphasized which acts to exclude unwanted components in foods and includes needed components, with sensors as part of a reassurance framework supporting regulation and food chain management. The integration of these sensor modalities into a single technological and commercial platform offers an opportunity for a paradigm shift in food reassurance.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>In recent years, consumers and governments are increasingly demanding information and&nbsp;reassurance on the content as well as on the origin of their food. Food industry (suppliers, manufactures and supermarkets) are required to provide and confirm the authenticity and point of origin of food products and their components, in order to protect consumer rights and prevent fraudulent or deceptive practices such as food adulteration. Therefore, food reassurance is crucial to food production and security of food supply. The concept of reassurance relies on the fact that it is desirable to ensure that the food&nbsp;adheres to its implied or commonly understood description. For example, free from inanimate objects such as glass, plastic, metal that can enter through the manufacturing processes; free from unacceptable levels of animate material such as viruses, bacteria, prions and spores that could lead to infection that can enter through poor hygiene; free from unacceptable levels of biological inanimate contamination such as peanut, almonds, contaminated vegetable oil, etc.; corresponds to the packaging claims, including type of food and origin (e.g. British beef). Given that it is best to exclude food contaminants from the food chain, sensors are best deployed in a regulatory context within which the sensing techniques form part of a compliance framework, reassuring that regulation is effective. A strategy for food reassurance might be summarized as Prevent, Reassure, and Detect. Prevention implies a threat to food supply and includes adulteration. Examples of&nbsp;adulteration include horsemeat added to other meats, the addition of waste oil to vegetable oils, the addition of ethylene glycol in Austrian wine and the addition of melamine to milk in order to increase the apparent protein level. There is also an expectation that a product claiming to be meat does not contain unreasonable levels of fat and gristle. The best approach to food security is pro-actively anticipate the threat and then prevent it;&nbsp;especially in the manufacturing part of the supply chain with the potential for foreign body contamination from the process line. However, assured prevention requires detection.</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is &ldquo;Sensors for food chain tracing - hyperspectral imaging, acoustics and robotics&rdquo; as well as&nbsp;<a href="">Professor Megan Povey</a> as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study in the School of Food Science and Nutrition is an IELTS of 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>Supported by the University Smart Farm project, although you will need to provide your own sponsorship for this project, including tuition fees, living expenses, and research costs.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information about the project please contact&nbsp;<a href="">Professor Megan Povey</a>.&nbsp; For information about the application process, please contact the Graduate School Office <strong></strong>&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;</p>