Innovation That Matters

Safe packaging | Photo source Pixabay

Food packaging changes colour with food’s freshness


Brazilian petrochemical firm has developed a brand new kind of packaging that uses pH indicators to detect and change colour with the food’s freshness.

According to America’s National Resources Defence Council, it’s thought consumers in the US alone throw around one billion pounds worth of food away each year, simply due to confusing labels. Many people still don’t know the difference between Best Before or Use By, and are often too scared to eat what is often perfectly healthy food due to the vague nature of labelling. But imagine if the food was wrapped in packaging that analysed the food and altered colour to indicate its health (or spoilage)?

Enter Braskem, a Brazilian petrochemical company who has collaborated with Universities in both Brazil and the US to develop a new packaging that does change colour as food spoils, specifically by detecting pH changes and other elements that suggest the food is turning bad. Research first started back in 2013 with a prototype emerging last year.

Braskem are not the only company attempting to develop intelligent packaging. In the past, a team at the University of Rhode Island came up with heat-sensing UPC codes that could adapt to different colour when the food warmed up, and shortly after researchers in China developed small smart tags that could be attached to packaging and helped customers judge the condition of food.

This ongoing development still has more to go before it can reach mass production, and the cost of the sensors still isn’t commercially viable in the masses they’d be needed. Detecting food health is something the Changhong H2 spectrometer would almost certainly be handy at. Another packaging initiative we’ve seen recently has been the Lithuanian biodegradable packaging, which could have a huge beneficial impact on the environment. What other innovations could reduce our food waste?



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