January 10, 2011
GLASGOW, ScotlandResearchers at the University of Strathclyde are developing smart packaging" that alerts consumers to spoiled foods by changing color when the food is past its prime. An estimated 8.3 million tons of household food are wasted in the United Kingdom each year.
The packaging is made of intelligent plastics" that let consumers know when the food is close to spoiling because of damaged wrappers, the expiration or best before" date is passed, or has not be stored at the proper temperature. Current freshness indicators are usually labels inserted into a package, but those labels can be costly, the researchers noted. The indicator will be used as part of a form of food packaging known as modified atmosphere packaging, which keeps food in specially-created conditions that prolong its shelf life.
"Modified atmosphere packaging is being used increasingly to contain the growth of organisms which spoil food but the costs of the labels currently used with it are substantial. We are aiming to eliminate this cost with new plastics for the packaging industry," said Andrew Mills, of the Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry, who is leading the project. "We hope that this will reduce the risk of people eating food which is no longer fit for consumption and help prevent unnecessary waste of food. We also hope it will have a direct and positive impact on the meat and seafood industries."
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