Contamination and Sanitation Inspection (CSI) System

The Industry Need and Solution: SafetySpect, in collaboration with the USDA – Agriculture Research Service (ARS), has developed an enhanced handheld contamination and sanitation inspection (CSI) system to address the lack of effective tools available for food industry inspection and control. Advancements in miniature light sources, detectors and optics (smaller, cheaper, and more efficient) have made this system both possible and commercially viable.  The system includes a portable, real-time food contamination inspection tool with capabilities beyond human vision.

Foodborne illnesses have been repeatedly linked to consumption of contaminated food, including frequent incidents of food sources contaminated with fecal matter and pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Listeria.  In the USA alone, meat and poultry account for 85 food product recalls per year. Of these recalls, 47% of incidents are due to microbial contamination. Meat and poultry recall increased by 96% from 2004 to 2014. Shelf life is also adversely affected by contamination. A cleaner product will have greater shelf life. This adds value through the entire supply chain providing less wastage, more shelf life and more time for consumption at home.

Sanitation inspection is of increasing concern for food suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, restaurant owners, caterers, and others who handle and serve food. They must prevent food contamination and potential mass food poisoning.  Laboratory testing and visual inspections are now used for detection and identification of contaminated food.  Human visual inspection has significant limitations and laboratory technologies requiring sampling are time and labor consuming and do not provide feedback for immediate action.

The USDA in collaboration with the U.S. Army has been working on a solution for over 14 years to address this major industry safety problem. They have spent considerable resources in development of a new tool specifically designed to safeguard American soldiers deployed outside of the U.S. from potentially hostile food suppliers abroad. The Army is expected to be the first customer for this system.

The SafetySpect scientific team, working with the USDA-ARS scientists under a formal Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), has overcome the final technical challenge to provide a commercially deployable system.  This last challenge was addressing the problem of ambient light during real world and field kitchen use. SafetySpect has licensed key USDA patents in addition to filing its own intellectual property and is working with the USDA now to commercialize this system.

SafetySpect CSI System:

SafetySpect’s first product will be an enhanced modification of USDA-ARS’s CSI system licensed to SafetySpect. This new wireless, portable high-speed imaging device will provide more sensitivity to contaminants in food processing facilities. Improvement over the USDA-ARS system enhances the interaction between the device/tablet/smart glasses and the inspector and increases integration capabilities with other compliance report platforms. The main technical upgrades over the existing USDA-ARS system include:

  • Dual Excitation Illumination: the new system will use two LED wavelength rings to optimize the fluorescence excitation wavelength of two types of contaminants.
  • Dual Emission detection: the new system features two 12-bit cameras optimized for low-noise applications and to operate efficiently under lighting of up to 200 foot-candles.

  • Enhanced Software: the new software will provide contrast enhancement algorithms, enhanced visualization of contaminants, improved user experience and be able to document pre and post remediation measurements for compliance.
  • Enhanced usability: the new system offers compactness, reduced weight, improved sensitivity, and availability of different visualization modes (add-on devices such as augmented reality glasses (e.g. Google glass/VR systems)).

SafetySpect has engaged an OEM optical system manufacturer that meets international regulatory compliance requirements to ensure the SafetySpect system meets the design requirements created in collaboration between SafetySpect and USDA-ARS scientists. SafetySpect and USDA-ARS are planning to file international patent applications for the advanced features of the system. This IP can be filed as part of SafetySpect’s ongoing Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the USDA-ARS.

Target Customers:

Industrial and Institutional Kitchens


Grocery Stores

CSI technology development timeline