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Scientists invent packaging able to detect bad food

David Wroe · 4 May 2011, 14:37

Published: 04 May 2011 14:37 GMT+02:00

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The researchers at the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Modular Solid State Technologies in Munich have created a “sensor film” that turns from yellow to blue. It can be cheaply added to food packaging so that shoppers can see with their own eyes whether food is still good and avoid potential food poisoning.

“There is no guarantee with ‘best before’ dates that the meat is still fresh – for example if you store it improperly,” researcher Anna Hezinger told The Local on Wednesday. “With this, you really see when the meat is rotten.”

The film, which would add only a few cents to the cost of packaged meat, chicken or fish, works like litmus paper, which is used to detect acidity. A dye in the plastic film reacts chemically with amines – molecules given off as food decays.

“As micro-organisms decay the meat, bio-organic amines are released into the air within the packaging,” Dr Hezinger said. “We developed this (plastic) for meat and fish but almost any fresh food releases these amines.”

The institute has had interest from partners in the food and packaging industries, though Dr Hezinger could not say who they were.

Shoppers may see the new packaging soon, though it would probably take more than a year, she said. Because it is cheap to make, the film could be added to a wide range of packaging.

Story continues below…

Fraunhofer scientists have already used the film to make first aid bandages that indicate if a wound is infected, she said.

They are also working on T-shirts that would change colour if an athlete is becoming dehydrated and needs to drink more water. As body fluids drop, sweat becomes more acidic. Plastic polymers in the T-shirt could detect this change before potentially dangerous dehydration sets it.

David Wroe (david.wroe@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:32 May 4, 2011 by mobiusro
Now it remains to be seen if and how many producers will want to use it :)
16:10 May 4, 2011 by venkyfra
I wish they sell another variant where I could test the food I'm about eat.
19:10 May 4, 2011 by Englishted
Now they need to invent one to be used in Kebab packing.
12:24 May 5, 2011 by tallady
Thats good news as my spouse always wants to put any food item in the trash when the code has expired even when it smells and taste ok.
17:45 May 6, 2011 by Englishted

some French cheeses taste ok but never ever smelt ok what would he do then?
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