Cereals and nuts can be stored during short or long term. This step is critical in the Food Chain regarding to Food Safety and Quality of the products. Products insufficiently dried or a bad silo management could imply mycotoxin contamination levels higher than the legally allowed. Traditionally in silos, only temperature (T) and relative humidity (RH) sensors are currently being used. As novelty, the use of ATEX complain carbon dioxide (CO2) sensors as a tool of silo management has been developed.
Preliminary studies in laboratory scale in Cranfield University (UK) and Pilot works in Barilla Company (Italy) had shown that the CO2 it is an early indicator of the biological activity in stored cereals compared to T and RH. Additionally, experiments performed under different interacting environment conditions in wheat and maize inoculated with Fusarium graminearum and Aspergillus flavus had shown a good correlation between fungal growth and CO2 production. It is worthy of mentioning that in the same experiments also a good correlation regarding mycotoxin production in several conditions have been found. Also, high CO2 levels are linked with high Dry Matter Losses and therefore, with nutritional losses and poor overall quality. A real-time CO2 model has been developed integrating all the data obtained at Cranfield University and at Barilla company, establishing the respiration baseline of the commodity, that responds with alert system derivate from the different level of risk, which is translate in a traffic light (green: safe, yellow: first alert, and red: high risk) for easy understanding of the final users.
Since CO2 increases could indicate biological activity from different sources (mycotoxigenic and non-mycotoxigenic fungi), in parallel, a different biological model for specific cereal-fungi-toxin have been currently developed (ex. Wheat-F. graminearum-zearalenone) based on T and RH. Therefore, when the CO2 main model alert that high risk, the second model based on the boundary conditions based on T and RH highlight the probability of fungal growth and mycotoxin production in a particular commodity.
Finally, from these models, the silo managers have powerful Decision Support Systems (DSS) to manage the product according to the expected risk. Safe product: human consumption; intermediate risk: a) fast process, b) animal feed application of adsorbent; and, high risk: bio combustibles.
Dr Garcia Cela has a strong background in Agricultural Engineering and Food Science and Technology. Her career has been mainly focused on the area of Food Safety management regarding the presence of mould and their toxins along the Food Chain. Her area of expertise is the ecology and metabolomic of fungus. Due to her strong background in food processing and engineering she is also an expert in Food Quality and Certifications applied to the food industries, like the BBRC or the IFS.
She joined Cranfield University (CU) as a Research Fellow in Applied Mycology in September 2016. Currently, she is focusing her work in the Horizon 2020 European Union’s project: MyToolBox “Safe Food and Feed through an Integrated Toolbox for Mycotoxin Management” (https://www.mytoolbox.eu/) in the WP02 and WP03. In this project, her research is mainly focused on the development of biological models that can be implemented as part of different Decision Support Systems (DSS) in cereal and nuts silos. The final goal is to minimise the mycotoxin contamination and allow the different agents to take rapid remedial actions and reduce the waste due to mould spoilage. Besides, she is developing guidelines for Good Silo Management.
She is an active researcher with several publications each year in peer-review journals (Scopus Hindex=7), as well as in international conferences. She is an internationally recognized early career scientist with regular invitations to review research articles in International Journals. She is a member of Society for Applied Microbiology and the Royal Society of Biology.
She is an Associate Fellow of the High Education Academy in the UK and an active member of the teaching team for CU’s MSc course in Food Chain Systems (more than 50 hours of lectures per year, group case studies, practical and individual and group project supervision). To sum up, she is also supervising MSc and PhD students.
Despite her mainly research line is focused on the area of Food Safety and Quality, she is currently exploring new areas in which her expertise and skills can provide new approaches towards the application of improved environmentally friendly strategies. In this sense, she is also collaborating with different research groups like the xxxxxxx and xxxxx (vinod y Sameer)
The main goal of Dr Garcia-Cela is to develop viable technologies that can be transferred to society, enhancing in this way the relationship between academia, the industry and the final consumers.