UK food safety gets an £800,000 boost

Wednesday, 27 March, 2013

Food industry standards in the UK have been given a boost to the tune of £800,000 as part of a collaboration between business and academia that will create new software.

Scientists at the University of Lincoln are working to create a flexible and efficient computer system that can quickly detect faults in food products and packaging on the production line. Dr Tom Duckett from the University’s School of Computer Science will create new multipurpose imaging technology to undertake quality inspection tasks in the food industry.

“We are trying to make an application that can detect a variety of issues in food products and packaging,” Duckett said. “It’s about ensuring that packaging is sealed correctly and about checking that the right amount of food is in the right place.”

The project builds on two previous research projects carried out by the University of Lincoln. “It is a case of bringing all the previous research together to create a versatile and flexible imaging technology which is currently unavailable today,” Duckett said.

“Manufacturers really want to check every single item of food that goes out of the factory. This system will be more consistent and reliable and should lead to less food waste as manufacturers can detect problems earlier in the production cycle, which in turn will also lead to safer food and make the whole process much more efficient.”

The project, Trainable Vision-based Anomaly Detection and Diagnosis, is part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency. Lead partner Ishida Europe Limited will work closely with the university to enable real-time testing of the software in its food processing and packaging systems, and will use it to create the next generation of quality-control systems for the food industry.

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