Pork contamination is a serious concern for the global halal food market because many manufacturers commonly use pork instead of beef to reduce production costs. In this study, a highly sensitive fluorescent molecularly imprinted polymer nanogel (F-MIP-NG)-based sensor was developed for rapid porcine serum albumin (PSA) detection to investigate pork contamination in halal meat extracts. F-MIP-NGs were prepared via molecular imprinting and conjugation with ATTO 647N as the fluorescent reporter molecule for the post-imprinting modification (PIM) and then immobilized on gold-coated sensor chips. For achieving rapid and easy measurement, the fluorescence response was measured using a custom-made liquid handling robot equipped with a fluorescence microscope. The fluorescence response increased with increasing PSA concentration. Under optimal conditions, the F-MIP-NG-based sensors exhibited high sensitivity, a detection limit of 40 pM, a linear range of 0.25-5 nM, and excellent affinity and selectivity towards PSA, compared to potentially interfering proteins. Moreover, it was more efficient to detect beef contamination in 1 wt% pork contamination compared to the real-time polymerase chain reaction. Collectively the good analytical performance, high rates of recovery in real meat extract samples, fast detection, and a low detection limit of pork contamination (0.1 wt%) indicated the potential of the proposed sensor for detecting PSA as a marker of pork contamination in halal meat samples. The proposed sensing system based on the MIPs would open a way to establish highly sensitive and rapid sensing systems (<5 min/sample) for food analysis.
Keywords: Fluorescence-based sensor; Halal food; Molecularly imprinted polymers; Porcine serum albumin; Pork contamination; Post-imprinting modification.
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