The system currently in place for determining whether meat and dairy products are fresh is the sell-by-date. While this date can serve as a guideline, it also encourages food waste, as many people – and retailers – throw away food if it’s a day or two past the date, when it is still often perfectly good.
Solveiga Pakstatite, a recent graduate of Brunel University in the United Kingdom, has developed a method that may soon change this for the better. The 22-year-old design and technology major invented the Bump Mark label, which consists of a solid gelatin label which starts out smooth, and forms bumps when the food inside the package is beginning to rot.
Therefore, instead of relying on an estimated date sticker, one can just touch the Bump Mark label to determine, with far greater accuracy, if the food inside of the package is fresh.
As to how the system works, Pakstatite explains: “[Gelatine] is a protein, so it decays at the same rate as protein-based foods like pork, milk and cheese… And the gelatine can be adapted to match the expiry period of the food by altering the concentration.”
She adds: “So, the higher the concentration, the longer the gel will stay solid. The label simply copies what the food in the package is doing, so the expiry information is going to be far more accurate than a printed date.”
Pakstatite states that her work with blind individuals during her studies initially inspired her research. She says: “I wanted to create a solution for enabling visually impaired consumers to gain expiry information about their food, as currently the only indication is a printed date.”
The Bump Mark could have wide-ranging applications, as currently, over 160 million dollars worth of food is thrown in the trash in America alone. For her work, Pakstatite won the UK James Dyson Award, and is moving on to the international stage of the contest. She has also applied for a patent, and is in communication with potential investors about developing the Bump Mark on a commercial level.
As food waste is such a prevalent issue, it would be wonderful to see this invention replace sell-by dates entirely in the near future.
-The Alternative Daily