Finnish innovator VTT has developed a new sensor for food packaging applications that detects ethanol, emitted from foods as a result of spoilage.
The sensor’s signal is wirelessly readable, transmitted from the packaging to the consumer by means of a reader – such as a smartphone – before the data is saved digitally on a remote server. The technology works by scanning the headspace of food containers for ethanol, which, along with carbon dioxide, was found to be the main volatile spoilage metabolite in fresh-cut fruit.
As part of a radio frequency identification tag (RFID), the sensor can be incorporated into a label or sticker for simple and cost-effective application. The company has demonstrated the technology using a plastic salad tray, and is now seeking a commercial partner to help bring the innovation to market.
A spokesperson for VTT claimed that the sensor could be used to combat levels of food waste: “The sensor transmits information about the freshness of the food in the package to the retailer or customer. The freshness data can be stored in real time in the cloud, enabling the comparison of food quality with its previous or later condition.
“Using the sensor, it will be possible to control the food quality throughout the distribution chain and to prevent waste caused by spoilage. More than 100m tonnes of food products end up in waste annually in Europe, and the amount will rise to 126m tonnes in the year 2020 if nothing changes.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019