Photonics spots killer fruit & veg

10 January 2022
Our campaign for Photonics 21 promoted a new technology that makes food safer by spotting pesticides and bacteria with incredibly sensitive laser light.

This media campaign helped to position the GRACED food technology consortium as an industry leader in the monitoring of foods for microscopic chemicals and harmful bacteria. It generated 30 pieces of media coverage with an audience of nearly 5 million monthly readers with worldwide coverage in publications across China, Africa, and throughout Europe.

Pesticides in fruit and vegetables kill an incredible 11,000 people every year, and unintentionally poison 385 million worldwide. Monitoring these foods for microscopic chemicals and harmful bacteria can take days of sending small batches off to laboratories for testing and analysis. But now, this new detector is being developed by the GRACED team to spot minute traces of harmful constituents with photonics directly in food chains to give a result in minutes.

The new ultrasensitive detector uses the most sensitive photonics technology that uses light particles to spot the tiniest traces of pesticide or bacteria in minutes – 50-100 times quicker than existing technologies. Tracking fruit and vegetables that flow through the detector, the system will allow continuous monitoring that targets an entire shipment autonomously, rather than having to stop and look at small batches. With lengthy safety checks and the fact that food can degrade quickly, factories make fewer checks meaning consumers face greater risk of exposure to poisons and bacteria – even in countries with very efficient monitoring techniques.

Account Director at Matter PR, Sam Young, said:

“Our campaign gave a boost to the magnificent work the GRACED team and the Photonics21 secretariat are doing, allowing workers to check for pesticides or bacteria by monitoring dozens more samples of fruits and vegetables than are currently performed.

“We helped position GRACED as a leader in food monitoring microscopic chemicals and harmful bacteria with their unique plasmo-photonic bimodal multiplexing sensor. The team are at the helm of one of the most sensitive detection technologies available in the world to identify contaminants at the molecular level.

“It’s incredible to think that even with efficient monitoring techniques 11,000 people every year tragically lose their lives, and 385 million are unintentionally poisoned by pesticides in a fundamental necessity – fruit and vegetables.”

GRACED project coordinator, Alessandro Giusti, said:

“With thousands of deaths worldwide, we are in urgent need of a rapid new monitoring device that is accurate, highly sensitive, and cheap to produce. Our sensor is part of a holistic, modular solution that exploits unique engineering designs, IoT concepts, and advanced data analytics to detect contaminations in fruit and vegetable value chains.”


Concluding in 2024, the GRACED project will conduct future trials in France, Italy, and Hungary, covering different types of production systems (conventional open-air farming, novel urban farming, short agroecological value chain, semi-automatic farming). The three-and-a-half-year project received a grant of € 4,989,480 from Horizon 2020 under the Research and Innovation action funding scheme.

From Public Outreach to Stakeholder Engagement, Matter PR specialises in helping organisations translate complex scientific projects into compelling stories which help communicate the importance and potential impact of their work.

Established in 2013, Matter PR is one of the only communications agencies specialising solely in engineering, science and technology. Contact us today to see how we can help you with your communications activities.