BlakBear, a revolutionary new smart packaging solution will soon hit the market in a bid to combat food waste.
According to Wrap, a UK based sustainability charity, 4.5 million tonnes of food is wasted by UK households each year.
Expiry dates play a big part in this. Consumers throw away food when it reaches the date printed on the packet, even when the food may still be edible. There are two types of dates commonly printed on food: one is the expiry date, and the other is best before/sell by date.
The expiry date is the date the manufacturer expects the product to be unfit for consumption, which can be affected by a lot of factors such as the temperature at which the food is kept.
The best before date is a statement of when the food item will stop tasting it’s best and doesn’t tell the consumer when the product should be thrown away. Consumers tend not to know the difference and will throw food away on or before the best before date, mistaking it for the expiry date.
BlakBear have devised a brilliant solution to this problem: a sticker that can detect ammonia, released by microbes as perishable foods like meat, fish and poultry spoil. The sticker contains a RFID chip, which can be scanned with a smart phone, and the app will tell consumers a more accurate shelf-life for that specific packet.
“The sensor can measure ammonia gas down to 200 parts per billion, which is more than 100 times better than the best human noses, so it’s much more sensitive than what you could do yourself. And it responds in seconds as well.”Max Grell, CEO of BlakBear
The app can also keep consumers informed about the product after purchase, sending reminders that they may want to check the product again and when it’s no longer safe to eat.
The data doesn’t stop with the consumer. As products make it through the distribution chain, products can be periodically scanned and the current shelf-life can be used by the manufacturer and the distributors to increase efficiency to help reduce waste.
It doesn’t just benefit the consumer, either. Food companies can benefit from less spoiled stock and happier customers. Who likes receiving food that is due to spoil the day after they receive it?
The stickers are currently being tried and tested in the UK, and in North America but BlakBear haven’t disclosed the names of the companies that they are working with during these trials.
So far, the technology has proven hugely effective with fresh meats, chicken and fish, however the business is also testing other food items, in the hopes that it can be used on more items, and they’re integrating the technology into home storage containers, so that consumers can stay informed on food that doesn’t have a sticker or has been opened.
You can find out more about BlakBear here.