New Smart Packaging Alerts Consumers & Grocers When Food Spoils

Smart Packaging BarcodeIf you’ve ever questioned the expiration date on your milk or other perishable goods, you will probably agree that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Now, barcodes can take the guesswork out of expiration dates. Barcodes created by SIRA Technologies, in conjunction with scientists at URI research, are specifically designed for use on refrigerated food products. The barcode’s ink is nearly invisible, but when conditions indicative of contamination exist, the ink will turn red and the barcode will be rendered incapable of transmitting data when scanned. This not only prevents consumers from eating leftovers gone wrong, but will also prevent stores from selling unsatisfactory goods. Researchers at URI believe that this new type of smart packaging will prevent thousands of people from getting food poisoning.

The technology was originally created when researchers at URI began studying thermochromic pigments that would be used on cookware to determine if something was too hot to touch. The heat-sensitive material that they developed generated a lot of interest, but it wasn’t until researchers modified their discovery into an irreversible polymer that does not revert to its original color after changing that SIRA technologies took notice.

SIRA had developed a barcode that could seize pathogens from animal blood and quantify the colony of pathogens with colored organic beads until the color emerged to activate the barcode and report the contamination. However, constant pathogenic mutations made it impossible to keep current with marketplace needs. The company’s subsequent search for an irreversible thermochromic ink led them to partner with URI in what is now trademarked and patented as The Food Sentinel System.

Only time will tell if these thermochromic barcodes will used on a large-scale throughout the grocery industry, but at less that four cents each, it would definitely be worth it in order to protect consumers and grocers alike.