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'Smart' food packaging developed
12:50pm Thursday 6th January 2011 in © Press Association 2014
Scientists have developed a type of packaging which can tell people when food is starting to go off.
Researchers at the University of Strathclyde said their "intelligent" plastic indicator should help cut food waste. They said around 8.3 million tonnes of household food, most of which could have been eaten, is wasted in the UK each year.
The indicator changes colour when the food is about to lose its freshness because it has broken or damaged packaging, has passed its best-before date or has been poorly refrigerated.
It is part of what is known as modified atmosphere packaging, which prolongs the shelf life of food.
Previously, scientists have experimented with expensive indicator labels which are inserted into the packaging. But the research team said they have developed an indicator which is part of the packaging itself, which would be cheaper to produce.
Professor Andrew Mills, who is leading the research, said: "At the moment we throw out far too much food, which is environmentally and economically damaging.
"Modified atmosphere packaging is being used increasingly to contain the growth of organisms which spoil food but the costs of the labels currently used with it are substantial. We are aiming to eliminate this cost with new plastics for the packaging industry.
"We hope that this will reduce the risk of people eating food which is no longer fit for consumption and help prevent unnecessary waste of food. We also hope it will have a direct and positive impact on the meat and seafood industries."
The project was part-funded by a £325,000 grant from Scottish Enterprise's Proof of Concept programme, which was set up to help commercialise research ideas.
Programme head Lisa Branter said: "This project is a great example of an idea which offers real business opportunities."