Hoping to develop an accurate handheld device for shoppers to check produce for pesticide residue, Avner Avidan put in six months of research and concluded this couldn’t yet be done reliably on the consumer level.
But he did discover that on a larger scale, food manufacturers, farmers and retailers were seeking faster, cheaper, and more reliable solutions to comply with government regulations requiring that their products do not exceed maximum residue limits (MRLs) for chemical contaminants including pesticides.
In 2016, he and his friend Yair Moneta founded Inspecto with the aim of revolutionizing how the food industry carries out such tests for both liquids and solids.
Incubated at The Kitchen FoodTech Hub in Ashdod, Inspecto’s portable system can be tailored to detect specific kinds of chemical contamination in real time, in the field or indoors at any point along the production line.
A sample of the product is placed in Inspecto’s disposable capsule and then inserted into a pushbutton-activated device resembling a coffeemaker. Within a few minutes, the user sees a quantified measurement of the selected contaminant in the sample.
“Using our system will save on cost and turnaround time over the current lengthy and expensive process of sending samples to certified labs,” Avidan tells ISRAEL21c.
Pilots began in January with three major companies in Europe to test raw ingredients and one in the United States to test a processed product.
“Food manufacturers have what we call a ‘wish list’ of contaminants covering different stages in the supply chain,” he explains. “Today it’s impossible for these companies to check everything because of how they have to sample in a low volume and frequency. We will help them get to mass frequency of testing.”
Inspecto has received a total of $1.7 million in funding. Investors include the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program; The Kitchen; the Israel Innovation Authority; the Bits x Bites food-tech accelerator in China; and Seventure Partners in Paris.