From the farmer’s fields to your fork: Ground-breaking sensing technology ensures that your food is free from mycotoxins, fungi, pesticides and antibiotics.

Scientists from eight European countries are collaborating to create two new devices to ensure that your food is free from contaminations detrimental to your health. One of the devices will be handheld and allow daily monitoring from the farm to the fork, the other device will be portable and for reference analysis, developed for use at every step in the food production chain.

Farm to fork

“A international manufacturer can check a batch of nuts before shipping them to the EU, and prior to mixing them with nuts from other manufacturers or other batches,” says prof. Achim Kohler of NMBU, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, who is coordinating the joint research effort. “But even before that, farmers can check their produce at the farm, before they send their raw materials to the manufacturer. By doing so, it is easy to trace where the problem occurs and to stop it preventing further problems. This is ground-breaking technology which is not available yet in the food production chains,” Kohler explains.

Quick and cheap

The new, yet to be developed devices will use innovations in mid-infrared sensing and advanced data analysis. The device will detect both microbial contamination and harmful chemical compounds.

Not only will the handheld and portable food safety scanner and analyser make it easier to find fungi, mycotoxins, pesticides, and antibiotics in food and food ingredients – it will also bring down the cost of testing. The new handheld technology is sturdy and inexpensive enough to enable checking at the farm, the manufacturer, the transporter, and the supermarket.

“PHOTONFOOD will make a device that will reveal such contamination quickly and inexpensively,” professor Achim Kohler says.

This fast and frequent testing will prevent the spread of noxious substances, reducing food waste while increasing the quality of your diet.


PHOTONFOOD is a four-year research and innovation project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101016444 and is part of the Photonics Public Private Partnership (, @Photonics21). The project is a collaboration between 13 partner organisations in 8 European countries, and is coordinated by NMBU.

Project partners

  • Ulm University, Germany
  • University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria
  • Wageningen University, Netherlands
  • National Food Chain Safety Office, Hungary
  • Nanoplus Nanosystems and Technologies GmbH, Germany
  • Romer Labs, Austria
  • IRIS Technology Solutions, S.L., Spain
  • accelopment Schweiz AG, Switzerland
  • BIGH Anderlecht SPRL, Belgium
  • Seeberger GmbH, Germany
  • BAMA Gruppen AS, Norway
  • Hahn-Schickard, Germany
  • Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway