We all get a little confused at times by those labels currently used on foods indicating the “sell by” or “best by” date. What do these labels really mean, and if you go past the “best by” date by a day or two, will you be consuming spoiled food? It’s been a point of contention for years, and the CDC says that one in six Americans becomes ill each year after eating or drinking foods/beverages that are contaminated. What if packaging would change color, alerting the consumer when a food may be spoiled or hazardous?
This is precisely the problem U.S. and Brazil universities are working to resolve, with the aid of Braskem, a thermoplastic resin producer. A recent article at Food Navigator revealed the technology, which was on display May 4-10 at Interpack 2017 in Dusseldorf, was developed by Braskem who partnered with Rio Grande do Sul Federal University in Brazil and Clemson University in the US to create the intelligent packaging.
Braskem began researching this intelligent packaging in 2013; the first prototypes were produced in 2016. Braskem polymer science researcher, Marcia Pires, said pH changes and other specific indicators cause packaging to emit an external alert when the integrity of the product is compromised, for instance if it has spoiled or is otherwise unfit for consumption.
The biggest challenges faced in intelligent packaging with sensors is cost, and the fact that replicating in mass quantities is difficult. It is easy to see how this type of food packaging would benefit both producers and consumers!
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