Out of the lab and into the field: Rapid on-site Raman testing for food security
There is a fully funded PhD position available for a UK student with Roy Goodacre in the Centre for Metabolomics Research, University of Liverpool.
Major food adulteration and contamination events occur with alarming regularity and are known to be
episodic, with the question being not IF but WHEN another large-scale food safety/integrity incident will
occur. The challenges of maintaining food security are recognized internationally, with the ever-increasing
scale and complexity of food supply networks leading to these networks becoming significantly more
vulnerable to fraud and contamination, thus increasing the potential for dysfunctionality.
As recently reviewed (Ellis et al. 2012) there are many analytical techniques that have been used for the
analysis of food for establishing authentication, adulteration, provenance as well as detecting food spoilage
and pathogens. However, most of these are laboratory-based measurements which mean transporting
the sample to the instrument. This major constraint needs to be addressed and it would be better if
samples can be analysed directly on site, so that appropriate action can be taken in a timely manner.
Raman and infrared spectroscopies are emerging as rapid on-site methods (so called “capable guardians”)
that allow “point-and-shoot” measurements (Ellis et al. 2015). This PhD project is to explore the application
of these methods for assessing the safety, provenance and integrity of feeds/foods/food ingredients.
In our research group we develop Raman and infrared for food security and applications and results can
be seen on our website (http://biospec.net/publications/) and recent examples include: portable through
bottle authentication of olive oil; the detection of the adulteration of coconut water; the detection of fake
spirit drinks and quantification of methanol added to spirits; and the detection and enumeration of food
pathogens on food, amongst other studies.
Rather than prescribe which areas to focus on, this PhD will be proactive and horizon scan for current and
up and coming areas that are threating the integrity of our food supply chains.
PhD Project Outputs:
• Horizon scanning of new food security threats.
• The assessment of a wide variety of Raman and infrared approaches that are either already
portable or portablisable.
• The incorporation of multivariate data analysis and ‘machine learning’ algorithms for unequivocal
detection and quantification of food fraud.
• The validation of this combined methodology.
• On-site testing of the delivered spectroscopy solutions.
Qualifications and Experience:
Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree
(or equivalent) in Biochemistry, Chemistry or a related field. Candidates with a master’s degree in a related
area/subject, and experience in analytical sciences within biology are encouraged to apply.
• Ellis, D.I., Brewster, V.L., Dunn, W.B., Allwood, J.W., Golovanov, A.P. & Goodacre, R. (2012)
Fingerprinting food: current technologies for the detection of food adulteration and contamination.
Chemical Society Reviews 41, 5706-5727. https://doi.org/10.1039/C2CS35138B
• Ellis, D.I., Muhamadali, H., Haughey, S.A., Elliott, C.T. & Goodacre, R. (2015) Point-and-shoot: rapid
quantitative detection methods for on-site food fraud analysis – moving out of the laboratory and into
the food supply chain. Analytical Methods 7, 9401-9414. https://doi.org/10.1039/C5AY02048D
• Many others here: http://biospec.net/publications/
For application enquires please contact Roy Goodacre (firstname.lastname@example.org).
To apply please send CV and a cover letter.
The closing date is 1 May 2022