Project Description

Pathogenic bacteria are the origin of 90% of reported food-borne illnesses. Listeria monocytogenes is one of the most worrying pathogens in the food chain, having “zero tolerance” in ready-to-eat and dairy foods. This bacterium is the agent causing listeriosis, an infection which can kill vulnerable people such as the elderly, newborns, pregnant women and people suffering from immuno-compromising diseases.

Current techniques for sampling and detection of L. monocytogenes show some major limitations, such as: very low recovery rates of the microorganism due to the formation of biofilms; extensive treatment times (sample preparation step needed in most of the cases); and limited sensitivity of the measurement techniques.
A Consortium of EU companies, universities and research centres has joined efforts through BioliSME project to develop the technology to overcome these limitations. The Consortium achieved the project’s aim of building a prototype device which integrates surface sampling and L. monocytogenes detection functions. This device allows semi-automatic sampling of food-contact surfaces and measurement of contamination levels by Listeria monocytogenes in less than 3 hours.
To achieve these results, the BioliSME Consortium developed innovative technologies to ensure the efficient sampling of surfaces with high microorganism recovery rates, isolation of L. monocytogenes bacteria for selective detection and fast and quantitative measurement of contamination levels. These features are integrated in a self-contained device which allows for mobility and easy handling of the system.


As part of BioliSME II project, the Consortium will work towards rendering this prototype device market-ready, bringing the technology developed closer to end-users in the agri-food industry: food producers, providers of laboratory services, safety consultants, etc.

Planned activities include:
  1. Construction of several prototypes for validation and demonstration purposes.
  2. Validation of the sampling and detection system against established Listeria monocytogenes detection methods.
  3. Trial tests in food industries in different sectors.
  4. IP protection for the technology developed.
  5. Production of specifications sheets, instructions manuals, performance dossier, etc.
  6. Demonstration and promotion activities, including publications in scientific journals and specialized media, presentations in relevant congresses and meetings and organization of demonstration workshops.

The expected benefits of developing this innovative technology for rapid L. monocytogenes detection and its introduction in the agri-food market are:

  • Improvement of food quality and safety controls by enabling faster, in situ Listeria detection, thus allowing companies to assure food safety and cleaning effectiveness in a shorter time.
  • More efficient management of food-borne illnesses outbreaks by reducing the number of infections by this pathogen and, in case of an alert, the reaction time.
  • Increased consumers’ confidence in the agri-food industry.

Project partners

  • Betelgeux (Spain)
  • Dublin City University (Ireland)
  • University of Southampton (United Kingdom)
  • Photek Ltd. (United Kingdom)
  • 40-30 (France)
  • Centro tecnológico Ainia (Spain)


  • 7th Framework Programme
  • European Commission (FP7-SME-2011-Demo-286713)


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