Laser sorter set to boost detection of aflatoxin

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Aflatoxin Aspergillus

A new laser sorter that makes aflatoxin-contaminated products easier to detect and reduces yield loss has the potential to revolutionise the processing of a wide range of crop plants, claims its manufacturer.

Belgium-based Best said the Detox Laser sorter uses lasers in conjunction with a newly developed optical design to facilitate the discovery of aflatoxin-tainted materials. Using its own Helius free-fall laser sorters, the new Best product con be configured with up to 12 laser sensors that provide, what the company claims to be, the highest detection resolution on the market.

Highly adaptable

A combination of structural measurements and full spectrum RGB colour sorting makes it’s a highly adaptable system, said Best. A colour touch screen and a GUI human interface with simple and easy to understand controls allow operators to monitor all aspects of the sorting process, said the firm.

Ease of use and convenience are two characteristics of the new system, said the company, which also has operations in the United States, Hong Kong and China.

“Simply press one button to start in the morning and one to stop at night, no calibration, or adjustments and no cleaning is required allowing for continuous production,”​ said a company spokesman.

Huge potential

Developed in collaboration with the University of Brussels, the sorter is already being used in the processing of almonds, figs, Brazil nuts and peanuts.

A spokesperson for the company told “The Detox sorter allows companies to be more efficient because there will be less product destroyed. We believe it has the potential to revolutionise the processing of crops such as nuts and figs.”

Aflatoxin, the generic name for several related metabolites (mycotoxins) produced by the mould Aspergillus Flavus on a wide range of nuts, is known to cause serious health problems and be highly carcinogenic. Historically, detection of aflatoxin has been difficult but the company is convinced it has developed an effective solution.

Production line test

A test conducted last month, when the sorter was integrated into the production line of one almond processor, demonstrates its effectiveness, said a Best statement. Outlining its performance, the company said the machine had processed 1,881 pallets of almonds that had been put on hold by the Voluntary Aflatoxin Sampling Plan (VASP) system. The machine sorted 1,877 tonnes of almonds at 3.2 ton/hour, which were all tested for aflatoxin contamination afterwards.

The first pass registered 93 percent effectiveness in detecting tainted nuts - with only five pallets highlighted as contaminated. Subsequent VASP tests identified 135 of the remaining 1,876 pallets as being unsafe. However, when these were reprocessed by the Detox sorter, the second pass was 100 per cent successful – with contaminated product found in less than one pallet – just 0.01 percent of the almonds.

“These numbers prove that the Detox Laser Sorter can accurately reject contaminated product and reduce aflatoxin below the lowest accepted level (5 ppb) without sacrificing good product,”​ said a company statement.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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