15AGRITECHCAT4: BirdEase: An integrated diagnostic system for bacterial detection in poultry farms

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Abstract

Foodborne disease is highlighted as a top priority for the food and beverage industry, responsible for £1.5Bn pa global economic losses (FSA, 2013). Nearly 70% of foodborne disease arises from Campylobacter, Salmonella and E.coli, which are major threats to the health and safety of the food supply chain (FSA, 2014). In collaboration with GreenGage (sustainable agricultural engineers), Cramasie (product designers), 2-sisters (poultry production and supply chain), CASI Everysite (quality assurance certification experts) and Campden BRI (industry researchers, lobbyists and informers), this project will develop an innovative integrated rapid sensing system for bacterial disease pathogens (BirdEase) for use within intensive poultry production systems (IPPS), allowing preventative disease risk assessment to inform management decisions, thereby reducing economic losses for primary producers, improving health and safety of poultry meat within the supply chain and minimising consumer health risk. This responds to the sustainability challenge of increasing livestock sector productivity, whilst minimising disease risk, thereby limiting human health issues.
BirdEase sensing system will analyse bacterial pathogens extracted from litter samples introduced into a continuous water flow system from IPPS user footwear, by incorporating a non-clogging bacterial collection and concentration system entirely compatible with IPPS environmental control. Bacterial collection will be performed by an acoustic loop concentrator linked to a circulating water bath, which uses multiple passes through a slanted angle standing wave separation field. Further downstream, mating resonance profiles effectively trap a beam of bacterial particles that posit on acousto-optic sensing devices for imaging and identification, with a view to producing a truly integrated 'sample-to-result' diagnostic system for real-time pathogen monitoring. The first proprietary sensing component excites acoustic waves withi a fabricated micrometer array, which probes the acoustic impedance of bacterial pathogens. The second optical sensing component provides further information on cellular characteristics via a standard CCD array to facilitate reliable pathogen identification. Depending on the detection performance required by poultry producers, different gradations of sensing specificity are possible, proportional to the average time of cell irradiation with acoustic and optical beams. The system will generate a wireless telemetry signal from a) the size and frequency of acoustic vibrations and b) the level of attenuation and light refraction, across the surface of the sensing module, which in turn will flag the signature of pathogenic species at the sensor surface. Combined with other sensors in the field, this data (disseminated via GSM) can indicate pathogen sources to a very high probability. Due to efficient coupling between pathogenic cells and opto-acoustic sensors, the system will provide near real-time feedback to a superior level of accuracy than currently available systems.
To support sustainability, the underpinning acoustic-optic sensing platform can be adapted by changing the size of the acoustic elements, the specific type of adjoining materials, and similarly by optimising the optical chip to complement the acoustic data, with wide applicability not only within agriculture, but for other diagnostic applications (e.g. healthcare and biodefence).

Technical Summary

Foodborne disease is highlighted as a top priority for the food and beverage industry, responsible for £1.5Bn pa global economic losses (FSA, 2013). Nearly 70% of foodborne disease arises from Campylobacter, Salmonella and E.coli, which are major threats to the health and safety of the food supply chain (FSA, 2014). This project will develop an innovative integrated rapid sensing system for bacterial disease pathogens (BirdEase) for use within intensive poultry production systems (IPPS), allowing preventative disease risk assessment and reducing economic losses for primary producers, improving health and safety of poultry meat within the supply chain and minimising consumer health risk. Bacterial collection will be performed by an acoustic loop concentrator and acousto-optic sensing devices for imaging and identification, with a view to producing a truly integrated 'sample-to-result' diagnostic system for real-time pathogen monitoring. The system will generate a wireless telemetry signal from a) the size and frequency of acoustic vibrations and b) the level of attenuation and light refraction, across the surface of the sensing module, which in turn will flag the signature of pathogenic species at the sensor surface. Combined with other sensors in the field, this data (disseminated via GSM) can indicate pathogen sources to a very high probability. Due to efficient coupling between pathogenic cells and opto-acoustic sensors, the system will provide near real-time feedback to a superior level of accuracy than currently available systems. To support sustainability, the underpinning acoustic-optic sensing platform can be adapted by changing the size of the acoustic elements, the specific type of adjoining materials, and similarly by optimising the optical chip to complement the acoustic data, with wide applicability not only within agriculture, but for other diagnostic applications (e.g. healthcare and biodefence).

Planned Impact

This project will enable real-time monitoring of foodborne disease pathogens prevalent in poultry meat: Campylobacter, E. coli and Salmonella in response to real industry needs. Foodborne disease costs the UK alone £1.5Bn pa (FSA, 2013), through healthcare burden, loss of economic productivity, and lack of consumer confidence in health and safety of the poultry supply chain. An integrated early warning bacterial sensing system will aid producers in preventing contamination through improved disease risk assessment, informing daily management decisions to minimise economic losses. Effective management of poultry disease through on-site monitoring has been identified as being crucial for industry progression (DEFRA, 2014).
PROJECT PARTNERS: Greengage will benefit from new sensing technology innovations that complement their core business activities in sustainable livestock production (including their animal welfare sensory system). CASI Everysite will expand their Assurance Certification platform to include core HACCP risk priority areas in poultry production and retail. Cramasie will benefit from significant business expansion by entering the agricultural product design market. 2 Sisters will improve profitability and retail profile through willingness to support R&D responses to key industry challenges. For Campden BRI, access to new sensing/diagnostic technologies enables exploitation of a wider range of pathogen testing services. For the academics, the co-operative multidisciplinary convergence of acoustic focusing, optical imaging, microfluidics, electronics, advanced materials, pathogen epidemiology, and agriculture accelerates knowledge transfer between different disciplines, with far reaching benefits for local and international academic communities. UC benefits from highly-skilled employment, education and training, and the opportunity to leverage medical diagnostic advances for the benefit of agriculture, opens up many applications for this platform technolgy.
WIDER SOCIETAL IMPACT: Ultimately, impact will be felt across the entire value chain, so producers, processors, retailers & consumers will all benefit, economically, socially, and environmentally. The cost saving to the average UK poultry barn is envisaged to be £7200/pa due to the savings made by disease prevention (cost £2829pa) compared to the cost of disease (£10,600 pa) (FAO 2014). Social impacts are vast and include reduced UK hospital admissions from food-borne illness (currently 20Kpa) and increased social trust in poultry retail by addressing consumer concern through assurance certification. Environmental impacts cannot be overstated as decreasing the burden of bacterial diseases on poultry health in broilers will increase efficiency of feed use enabling 11% reduction in natural resources, CO2 emissions, & water consumption (Hartini et al., 2003). These benefits could be greater in developing countries where IPPS operations are still under development, and where the foodborne disease burden is larger & less regulated (WHO, 2008).The project is timely given current economic, social and legislative drivers to reduce priority foodborne diseases (campylobacter, salmonella and e.coli) and decrease antibiotic overuse, and the opportunity to capitalise on cross-sector (medical diagnostic) sensing technology advancements. It reinforces collaborative commitment to R&D in agriculture ensuring that UK Plc maintains its international competitive edge against overseas economies, contributing to the nation's wealth. The potential for £180M NHS cost savings (from reducing campylobacter poisoning by 20% (FSA, 2015)) and the ability to adapt the technology platform to other livestock disease markets for wider agricultural impact, presents an attractive return on public funds.

Publications

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Description We are investigating the use of acoustic wave-based sensor devices for the identification of pathogens in poultry farms. We have been developing a novel combination of sensor technologies that together have the potential to identify pathogens in low concentrations from a sample of material obtained in a poultry farm. WE have gained good data which shows that both the acoustic and optical sensors can work in tandem with each other with a net benefit as a result. We have also deployed a first prototype system in a poultry farm, and this is currently being evaluated.
Exploitation Route This work is part of an InnovateUK project with partners who would implement the use of this technology. Some of the partners are involved in management systems for farms, but one of the partners runs a large number of poultry farms, and would be a direct end beneficiary.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Electronics,Healthcare

 
Description This work has resulted in a prototype sensor system for detection of pathogens which has been sent out to a project partner for field trials in an agticultural setting. The prototype system is currently being evaluated.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink