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STTR Phase I: Specialized high resolution imaging system for rapid batch screening of aflatoxin in corn


The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I project will be commercially deployable equipment for screening, detecting, and removing aflatoxin contaminated corn from the global food supply. Exposure to aflatoxin, a dangerous fungal carcinogen, has been linked to liver cancer, childhood stunting, illness and death in humans and animals, and major economic losses for farmers and grain handlers in the U.S. and globally. Rapid batch screening equipment will expand the capacity of the grain industry to test more corn for aflatoxin contamination and minimize the high sampling error that currently plagues the aflatoxin testing process and risks greater contamination exposure downstream. In addition to batch screening equipment, opportunities also exist to develop handheld devices to identify contaminated corn in the field, and continuous flow optical sorters, deployed at grain handling and food processing facilities, to remove the contaminated corn and protect the market value of the healthy grain. The goal is to 1) Increase revenue for farmers in the U.S. and globally; 2) Protect the food supply and reduce the risks of greater contamination exposure for farmers, grain handlers, and consumers; and 3) Protect feed supply and improve productivity of livestock.<br/><br/>This STTR Phase I project proposes to demonstrate the feasibility of a specialized high resolution imaging system for rapid batch screening of aflatoxin in corn. The research team will build the prototype unit and image processing software with the patented algorithm for detection of aflatoxin in corn, integrated with a high resolution, dual-camera system. With existing chemical tests for aflatoxin detection, it is difficult for grain handlers to test larger samples or every truck without causing major delays in operations. The key technical hurdle for rapid batch screening with this technology is reliable imaging analysis of sufficient size samples, screened fast enough for the imaging system to fit into commercial grain handling operations without disruption. By screening hundreds of corn samples with the rapid batch screening prototype unit, the team will validate device accuracy of >95% true positive and true negative for detection of corn contaminated with aflatoxin, consistently across contamination ranges and proportions, at a processing speed fast enough to be deployed by commercial grain handlers on every truckload.

Yao, Haibo; Ramezanpour, Chris
Secure Food Solutions
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