Currently in the UK, foods are sold with ‘display until’ and ‘best before end’ labels. These are intended to advise consumers about when foods are no longer safe to eat. However, this system is not without fault. First, if foods are stored incorrectly, they may be unsafe to eat before the specified date. Second, many people rely on the dates provided on the labels and throw food away that is perfectly safe. This results in a lot of food wastage in the UK. There are now new plans to trail an entirely different system.
A high-tech food label has been designed that turns bumpy if a food is no longer safe to eat. Dairy products company Arla is trialling this new label. Their cheese, cream, and milk will have this new label to help consumers to definitively know if food is no longer safe.
The labels contain a gelatine-based gel that reacts to the temperature outside and the packaged food. The conditions cause a molecular breakdown and the labels are designed to deteriorate at the same rate as the food.
The main aim of these labels is to prevent waste. The current labelling system errs on the side of caution and the new labels will provide a more accurate date for which the products are no longer safe. The new label is being backed by food waste campaigners as an effective solution to this problem.