Tags: food | spoilage | smart | tags

New 'Smart Tags' Identify Spoiled Foods

By    |   Tuesday, 18 March 2014 04:20 PM

We may soon be able to say good-bye to the sniff test to determine if the milk in the fridge has turned sour or that leftover pasta is still good to eat. Food scientists with Peking University in Beijing have developed a new color-coded "smart tag" that can tell consumers if food is spoiled without opening containers.
 
The tag — about the size of a kernel of corn and placed on the packaging — can be used to determine if medications and other perishable products are still active, fresh, or have passed their expiration date.
 
The new technology, unveiled at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Dallas this week, could reduce the thousands of cases of food poisoning each year linked to spoiled food products.
 
"This tag, which has a gel-like consistency, is really inexpensive and safe, and can be widely programmed to mimic almost all ambient-temperature deterioration processes in foods," said Chao Zhang, a research who helped develop and test the device.
 
Zhang added that the tags could also help manufacturers, grocery-store owners, and consumers know if food has been unduly exposed to higher temperatures, which could cause unexpected spoilage.
 
"In our configuration, red, or reddish orange, would mean fresh," explained Zhang. "Over time, the tag changes its color to orange, yellow and later green, which indicates the food is spoiled."
 
The researchers developed and tested the tags using E. coli — a common source of foodborne bacterial illnesses — in milk to gauge its effectiveness.
 
The tags contain tiny metallic nanorods — made of gold and silver — that, at different stages and phases, can have a variety of colors. The technology has been patented in China, and now the researchers plan to contact manufacturers to explore how the tag could be used in food and pharmaceutical applications.

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Food scientists with Peking University in Beijing have developed a new color-coded 'smart tag' that can tell consumers when food has spoiled or medicine is no longer effective.
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2014-20-18
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 04:20 PM
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