DigiFoods and the sustainable development goals
At DigiFoods first physical annual meeting more than 70 representatives from the partners participated. A lot of interesting research result were presented, followed by engaging discussions and conversations.
The introduction by Jens Petter Wold, the Centre Director of SFI DigiFoods and senior scientist in Nofima, showed that despite the pandemic, a lot of research and collaboration have been carried out already. This summary presents just a few examples from the ongoing work and preliminary results.
Raman spectroscopy has the potential to measure many different quality properties of foods in process. In DigiFoods we have established that the method can be used to measure the percentage of bone fragments in minced poultry meat and the fatty acids EPA and DHA in ground salmon under realistic industrial conditions. PhD-student Tiril Lintvedt did also show that Raman is suitable for measuring EPA and DHA in whole salmon fillets at speed on a conveyor belt. There is great interest in the aquaculture industry for such a method, for quality sorting, to document the effect of feed composition on fish quality and the connection of genetics with phenotype. The possibility to quantify the amount of bone in ground rest raw can be used to monitor the quality of minced meat and the raw material before it enters bioprocessing, such as enzymatic hydrolysis.
IR and FTIR
IR and FTIR are other spectroscopy methods used for detailed chemical characterization. They are particularly suitable for measuring the chemistry of cow’s milk, such as the fatty acid composition, which is useful for both the farmers and dairies to improve raw material utilization, and even to get an indication of the energy balance and diseases. With FTIR we can also quantify size distributions of peptides from industrial peptide products. Peptide size is an important quality feature and such measurements will be of value for the industry.
A prototype portable FTIR instrument for dry film measurements is being developed and will be evaluated for in process measurements by PhD-student Bijay Kafle. Other IR technology can be miniaturized based on novel LEDs (light emitting diodes) that produce radiation in the mid-IR region. This enables small handheld sensor systems that can determine a range of chemical properties of food throughout the value chain. A prototype system is under construction.
As a part of DigiFoods, new solutions based on hyperspectral imaging are under development. There are promising results for using hyperspectral imaging both in estimation of fish freshness and in early identification of deviating quality.
Post doc Samuel Ortega uses hyperspectral Imaging to estimate the freshness and thereby the shelf-life of fresh cod fillets based on the oxidation status of blood. He has also conducted a study on how hyperspectral imaging can be used as a tool for early identification of Mushy Halibut Syndrome. For both cases the results are promising.
In-line measurement of salmon fillets with Raman spectroscopy requires robotic control that includes machine vision and algorithms that handle the measurement probe optimally. Such a robotic system is outlined and forms the basis for a demonstrator to be developed and tested in the center.
Robots can also use sensors in the field. Today the autonomous agri-robot Thorvald is used to illuminate strawberries with UV-light to prevent diseases, presented by Pål From (CEO Saga Robotics). Thorvald is also being developed to pick strawberries, and we have tested sensors for measuring ripeness, sugar and acids in the berries. The intention is that such sensors will enable automatic precision picking of strawberries. Results are promising.
An important part of DigiFoods is all about how to utilize all the quality data that is measured with smart sensors. Within analysis, modeling and optimization of processes based on information from these sensors, we have two main activities. One is to develop tools and strategies for washing, structuring and combining data from different measurement systems (in-line / at-line / off-line). The second is about using data to model and interpret reasons for variation in quality, and use this for process optimization, process monitoring or decision support for food producers. We work with cases in the production of cheese, French fries and chicken, as well as enzymatic hydrolysis of residual raw material from chicken and salmon.
DigiFoods – a hub for developing core digital technology
DigiFoods is supposed to be a hub developing core digital technology for companies related to the food system. Digitalization in the food system in general and DigiFood in particular, could support the Sustainable Development Goals in several ways. Research director Mats Carlin at Sintef Digital listed the following factors:
- Digitalisation is key to transforming the food industry
- Reducing the climate footprint by increased efficiency and reduced energy consumption
- Food safety and future circular bioeconomy
- Focus on developing technology providers
- Develop Norway as a global food supplier.
The video The green shift in Food Production gives an overview of SFI DigiFoods mission. It is made by Sintef Digital. Research manager Marion O’Farrell explanes why digitalization is crutial for the green shift in Food Production.