Best before text will disappear from packaging

Best before text will disappear from packaging
Best before text will disappear from packaging

It could well be that food packaging will look very different in the future. In a recent study, scientists advocate the idea of ​​using ‘smart packaging‘.

Everyone is now familiar with the ‘best before’ stickers that can always be found on food packaging. In a recent study, scientists describe this sticker as very expensive and ‘far too conservative’. The sticker often means that good food has to be thrown away, causing both food producers and consumers to spend an unnecessary amount of money each year. That is why it is now being advocated smart packaging. This is technology that is built into the packaging itself and actively ‘tests’ whether or not the underlying food has spoiled. Scientist Tohid Didar contributed to the research. He explains: “We understand that people want their food to be safe to eat. In addition, people often do not want to pay even more for their food – after all, food prices are already sky-high. Nevertheless, we think it is important to make people aware of the problems that exist (regarding food packaging, ed.) and we are ready for a discussion with politicians and policymakers to solve these problems.” The research has been published in the journal Nature Reviews Bioengineering.

Sentinel Wrap
In the study, the scientists mainly point out that the current ‘best before’ sticker is currently very expensive, both directly and indirectly. This is mainly due to the fact that this sticker unnecessarily ensures that edible food is thrown away. The scientists cite Canada’s food waste as an example. For example, $40 billion worth of food is currently thrown away in this country every year. In addition to the monetary price tag, throwing away so much food also has serious consequences for the environment. Finally, the scientists point out that food can sometimes be seen as quite scarce at the moment. As a result, unnecessarily throwing away food can have unintended social consequences.

In the study, the scientists also mention several examples of this smart packaging – and what these could mean for society. This shows that they have mainly developed two different technologies that can be used directly as packaging. First there is Sentinel Wrap; a plastic wrap that changes color when the packaged food spoils. Secondly there is also Lab-on-a-package. This technology is more about adding a separate test box to existing packaging. The test box emits a signal when the underlying food becomes spoiled. Yet other technologies are particularly interesting for food manufacturers and supermarkets. There is also a gel that can actively prevent food from spoiling. The gel does this by attacking harmful bacteria.

There is an important reason why scientists are so pompously calling for a switch to other packaging materials. The scientists point out that food producers are currently very reluctant to use new technologies that could ultimately drive up food prices for consumers even further. Not only that; Many countries currently have food laws that make it very difficult to finally say goodbye to the ‘best before’ sticker. Fellow scientist Shadman Khan contributed to the research. He concludes: “We are busy building a network consisting of governments and partners from the (food) industry. These parties are eager to work with us and enable us to see possible solutions. Applying for patents is really different from developing a product that people can actually use.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: text disappear packaging


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