Microplastics at Food: International project strengthens efforts of science and industry in microplastics research
Cutting-edge methods for the detection of microplastics in food and prevention methods are the focus of this international project called 'microplastics@food' which kicked of the beginning of July 2021. Coordination of the project is shared by the Industry Association for Food Technology and Packaging e.V. on the German side and ecoplus, the business agency of Lower Austria, on the Austrian side. The project is part of the Cornet (Collective Research Networking) initiative which promotes European research projects. It consists of three leading research partners: University of Bayreuth, Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden and the Austrian Research Institute for Chemistry and Technology in Vienna(OFI). Moreover, 55 companies from packaging and F&B industries are participating in this project. Purency has the special role to support the research with expertise to automate the data analysis of microplastics measurements by leveraging machine learning technology. A robust model will be developed and used that will enable the researchers to quantify the amount of microplastic particles in the samples and classify them according to polymer type and size - within minutes. Thus, a higher sample throughput is enabled and the researchers can focus on the interpretation of the data instead of finding the needle in the haystack. Together, all partners are seeking to develop the right methods for detecting microplastics in food, understanding the origin and developing suitable prevention methods.