Intelligent wrapping detects 'off' food

10th January 2011 - Fine Cut

Cautious eaters who worry about food that might be starting to go off, could soon benefit from a new form of intelligent plastic wrapping.

Researchers from Strathclyde University have developed a new indicators which will act as warning labels and change colour when food is about to lose its freshness.

The researchers hope they will soon have a commercially viable product available which will improve food safety and help cut waste. It is thought that around 8.3 million tonnes of food is thrown out of British households each year, even though the majority of it could be eaten. It is also estimated that there are about one million cases of food positioning annually in Britain.

The team from Strathclyde University say the smart wrapping will alert consumers when a food is beginning to go off because it has broken or damaged packaging, has been poorly refrigerated or it has exceeded its "best before" date, The Engineer reports.

Professor Andrew Mills lead researcher on the technology told BBC News: "At the moment, we throw out far too much food, which is environmentally and economically damaging. 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 costs with new plastics for the packaging industry."

"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," he added.

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