A joint venture has been formed in Ireland to develop a biosensor that will improve quality monitoring processes in the dairy industry.

Tyndall National Institute, a research center based in Cork, has teamed up with Teagasc — Ireland's Agriculture and Food Development Authority — for the Spore Analysis Critical Control Point (SACCP) partnership. They plan to create a portable biosensor to detect harmful spore-forming bacteria of environmental origins that may enter the dairy supply chain and exceed the strict microbiological specifications for high-end products such as infant milk formula.

Ireland is a major producer of infant milk formula, responsible for 15 percent of global production.

According to the partners, an early spore detection biosensor will make milk products safer and their production less wasteful. The project is supported by the Food Institution Research Measure (FIRM) program of Ireland's Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, which has committed EUR625,000 ($686,000) in funding.

With existing spore detection processes, several days of laboratory analysis are sometimes necessary before a definitive result is available. By comparison, the biosensor under development will be portable and produce results in just minutes, Tyndall explained.

The new device is expected to allow on-site, in-line and real-time testing of milk to ensure that spore-forming bacteria, which can survive pasteurisation, do not reach harmful levels.

"This biosensor has the potential to become an essential component of the dairy manufacturing process all over the world. Early detection is key and the biosensor will enable producers to take preventative measures at earlier stages thus preventing unnecessary product degradation," commented Dr Karen Twomey of Tyndall.