The concrete outcomes of the FEED-CODE project once it is made available to farmers, SMEs and small regional producers will be:
1. An automatic and easy-to-use FEED-CODE platform for the reliable and precise detection of plant species used in compound feed. The device can be used by feed manufacturers and traders to guarantee the quality of the products and by farmers to comply with EU regulations and production protocols. Molecular probes and protocols for the easy quantitative detection of plant species in compound feed will also be produced.
2. In addition, FEED-CODE will set a new standard procedure for the labelling of animal feed, in compliance with new EU regulation. This standard is going to be offered to members of stakeholder associations in the sector as an high added value service to grant the quality of their products. The new standard will allow farmers to receive the exact information of the feed composition, with precision down to 1%. This will guarantee the quality of their production and comply with strict limits imposed by PDO production protocols.
FEED-CODE is going to improve the currently used procedure by contributing to the efficiency and performance of each of the steps described below.
– At present, the feed is being crushed at a rate of one sample at a time. The grinding device needs to be washed and cleaned after each crushing cycle, which makes the current practice needlessly time-consuming. FEED-CODE will put in place a mechanical device that allows the simultaneous processing of 8 to 12 feed samples with no need for cleaning, yet fully protected from accidental cross-contaminations.
– Up to now, DNA extraction has been done manually and PCR reactions are run separately. FEED-CODE will introduce the use of an automatic DNA extractor, suitable for feed processing, which will be combined with the PCR instrument. Thereby, sample handling and processing will become much faster.
– The so-called slab gel electrophoresis is a wide-spread technique for the separation of the amplified fragments. However, FEED-CODE’s method of choice for fragment separation is the more accurate capillary electrophoresis, shown to perform well with the TBP-amplified products. The operation is going to be performed on a DNA analyser capable of processing a high number of samples.
– The output of this operation will then be analysed by means of new software that is going to be developed within the FEED-CODE project. This software should allow the fully automatic identification of plant species present in any compound feed sample.