A new frontier in the fight against food waste has emerged after a UK Parliamentary committee heard how scientists are developing microchips that send a text message when the food is about to go of
A committee of peers examining how to minimise food waste was told that computer chips might be used to assess whether food is getting past its prime.
According to a report from the BBC, committee chair and Lib Dem Baroness Scott of Needham Market had told environment minister Dan Rogerson that a witness giving evidence to the committee in the Netherlands said: “We’re quite close to commercial production of a small chip which would go into packaging which would measure the actual deterioration of the rate of food.”
She explained that the current convention of the best before date “just assumes that everything’s equal; it just assumes that you all keep your food at the same temperature whereas this would actually respond to what the real conditions are”.
Rogerson said: “I should be intrigued to know the range and amount of resource that would have to go into producing it.”
The computer chip could even “send you a text to tell you that it needed eating”, she said.
Lady Scott concluded: “I’m having enough trouble with my text messages without the fridge texting me.
“Realistic or not, it’s interesting to see where innovation can lead.”
While details of the development may be vague, it would follow on from a range of new technologies that have launched recently – and have received high-profile coverage – that are designed to either prolong the shelf life of products or indicate to consumers when food is going off.
A label from Insignia Technologies, for instance, indicates when food is best to eat and won the ‘Best New Concept’ award at last year’s UK Packaging Awards.
Meanwhile a number of food retailers, including Marks & Spencer, have adopted a strip for their fresh produce packaging called ‘It’s Fresh!’ that absorbs ethylene, which causes fruit to ripen and then go mouldy.