Your mobile might be able to tell you when your food is going off

Scientists have come up with a new sensor for food goods that may offer an answer to food waste

A team of scientists at the Imperial College of London have created a new method of measuring product freshness, which they hope will reduce the mountains of food waste currently created. The solution uses an NFC1 enabled phone (no apps required) on the package's 'Freshness Sensor', which then instantly provides a digital readout of the products actual freshness, which is determined by measuring the gases found within each sealed package.

It is claimed that this is a very low cost and highly effective methodology to measure the freshness of food within sealed packages. The team hopes that their research will lead to a digital 'Freshness Sensor' on every package and replace current expiration date systems, which lead to masses of food being disposed of before it has truly reached a point of being unsafe for consumption.

Systemic waste

The freshness of packaged perishable products, such as fish or meat, can be impacted by the various conditions encountered on the journey from the packaging facility to the supermarket refrigerator.  For instance, the freshness of a product declines more rapidly when left for a prolonged period on a hot loading dock versus a different package that was continuously refrigerated throughout its journey to the store.

The current model for preprinted expiration dates on such products are predetermined using conservative calculations that assume less than optimum conditions prevail within the supply chain.  The conservative nature of preprinted expiration dates are designed to protect public health, yet consequently, result in a lot of perfectly good food being thrown away.  In fact, globally approximately 1/3 or approximately 1.3 billion tons of perfectly good food is tossed into the garbage. That's more than enough food to take care of the 821 million people who suffer from hunger worldwide.

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