ASNInsta Testing

Instant testing for Asparagine in food

Instant test at the gate

ASNInsta Test is a newly developed proof-of-concept allowing food manufacturers to measure asparagine instantly. The Acrylamide EU regulation forced all food manufacturers to show significant effort in reducing acrylamide formation in food. 

Why test with us

The free amino acid, asparagine, is one of the main limiting factors of acrylamide formation in wheat products. The current golden standard analyses of asparagine take ten days to complete. However, food manufacturers are looking for more straight forward and faster methods to analyse raw products. ASNInsta test allows asparagine to be measured easy, intstantly, within ten minutes and reliably. Thus confirming, that food manufacturers are reducing acrylamide forming potential as low as reasonably achievable.

High quality testing

Providing a rapid test result for asparagine (ASN) levels to replace lengthy laboratory testing, ASNInstaTest will allow food manufacturers to 1) establish levels of ASN in their product rapidly, 2) decrease ASN levels in their products by choosing the right material for the right product, or 3) amend current procedures to decrease ASN in their pre-cooked products and hence acrylamide formation in food. Furthermore, ASNInstaTest will reduce production and storage costs, and provide fast, affordable testing for primary producers. This project is a rapid response to a need identified by current industrial customers, driven by new EU regulations. The need for rapid testing arises when flour enters the factory. Currently, flour and grain are tested at-the-gate for protein content using NIR spectroscopy, but this technique is unable to measure free ASN. To comply with imminent EU regulations, every factory should provide evidence that they are testing for the presence of asparagine/acrylamide and adjusting their processes to decrease acrylamide formation in products. However, a rapid test for ASN is not currently available. ASNInstaTest will be a key tool to help mitigate or solve the acrylamide problem in food and help UK and EU companies to comply with EU Regulations.

Curtis Analytics offers state-of-the-art testing technology, carrying out the full spectrum of amino acid, acrylamide and sugar analyses. Curtis Analytics developed and modelled the optimisation of the asparagine hydrolysis assay, which is working effectively for wheat, potato and rye samples and is completed. Previously, Curtis Analytics optimised and published research on three asparagine synthetases from wheat and the first mathematical model of the TaASN enzymes kinetics. Additionally, Curtis Analytics analyses wheat, rye and potato samples for amino acids, particularly asparagine, as a commercial service.

Summary of wider benefits from the Project

Potential beneficiaries include: Agricultural Industry, farmers and breeders through generation of information about potential varieties for breeding programmes, targeted selection and/or targeted mutagenesis for low ASN wheat varieties. This is especially important for sensitive wheat products such as breakfast cereals, biscuits and bread. Rapid measurements of ASN levels will be made available for all 28 EU member states and could potentially lead to an EU-funded project to mitigate the acrylamide problem in Europe. This will further lead to healthy wheat products.

A webpage hosted by Curtis Analytics to disseminate key research outputs is currently under development. Details of all the publications and data generated will be added for industry and interested parties to access.

Delivery of seminars disseminating key research outputs in an understandable and targeted way to a wider audience, including industry partners, farmers, students and scientists will make them aware of the new technology and will ultimately result in improved wheat products.

The technology will help to strengthen existing industrial collaborations and develop new collaborations with industry, particularly Europe, China, US and Brazil and expand awareness of the acrylamide issue.

The EU leads on defining “indicative” levels for acrylamide in wheat products and has underlined benchmark limits. The most sensitive products are breakfast cereals and biscuits. This project will assist regulatory bodies by providing quantitative evidence on safe levels of acrylamide. Currently, EU policy makers are following the ALARA principle: “the levels of acrylamide should be decreased as low as reasonably achievable”. This project will contribute to developing and delivering realistic policies.

Testing

Providing a rapid test result for asparagine (ASN) levels to replace lengthy laboratory testing, ASNInstaTest will allow food manufacturers to 1) establish levels of ASN in their product rapidly, 2) decrease ASN levels in their products by choosing the right material for the right product, or 3) amend current procedures to decrease ASN in their pre-cooked products and hence acrylamide formation in food. Furthermore, ASNInstaTest will reduce production and storage costs, and provide fast, affordable testing for primary producers. This project is a rapid response to a need identified by current industrial customers, driven by new EU regulations. The need for rapid testing arises when flour enters the factory. Currently, flour and grain are tested at-the-gate for protein content using NIR spectroscopy, but this technique is unable to measure free ASN. To comply with imminent EU regulations, every factory should provide evidence that they are testing for the presence of asparagine/acrylamide and adjusting their processes to decrease acrylamide formation in products. However, a rapid test for ASN is not currently available. ASNInstaTest will be a key tool to help mitigate or solve the acrylamide problem in food and help UK and EU companies to comply with EU Regulations.

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