The Fraunhofer Institutes want to develop intelligent packaging to counter food waste.
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institutes are looking for methods and techniques to help consumers find out whether their food is still edible. This is important for meat, for example. “It is not only highly perishable, but also consumes far more water in production than cheese if the entire production process – from rearing the animals to putting the schnitzel on the plate – is included,” explains the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), which supports such research projects.
Dr. Sabine Trupp and her team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Microsystems and Solid State Technologies (EMFT) in Munich are specifically supporting this project. In cooperation with several partners, the scientists from Munich have succeeded in integrating chemical sensor materials into the lids of ordinary meat packaging. The scientist explains: “The packaging measures the gas produced during biochemical processes such as the spoilage of meat”. If the gases exceed a limit value, the lid turns blue. This means that by simply looking at the packaging, consumers can see whether the meat is still edible – regardless of the best-before date or expiry date prescribed for certain meat products. The special thing about this is that it has been possible to integrate the dye into the packaging in such a way that it does not come into contact with the food and the environment – and still reacts with the gas. This technology can also be integrated into an industrial manufacturing process. “Intelligent packaging thus has a good chance of entering the market in the medium term,” explains the BMEL.