Monitoring food freshness

Sensors integrated into food packaging can indicate the current state of its contents. Such intelligent packaging could increase food safety while helping to combat unnecessary food waste.

Intelligent food packaging

Consumers can rarely assess the freshness of a food product with the naked eye. Yet easily perishable foods such as raw meat and fish products are highly susceptible to microbial decomposition processes.

Intelligent food packaging, capable of detecting the microbial state of its contents, would not only increase product safety, it would also reduce food waste at the end of the supply chain. Such sensor packaging would reliably determine whether a product is still edible, no matter whether the best-before date had already expired or not. 

Project FRESH - for more food safety and less waste

Since it is very difficult to monitor the freshness of packaged products, Fraunhofer EMFT is collaborating with Fraunhofer IVV and industry partners on the project FRESH to develop a packaging foil which indicates the degree of food freshness. The development involves integrating chemical sensor materials (optical chemosensors) in food packaging. The integrated sensors respond specifically to gases released when the product perishes, triggering an obvious color reaction when a certain threshold is exceeded. This makes it possible to reliably determine the freshness of the product at a single glance.  

© Fraunhofer EMFT / Bernd Müller

Multimedial reportage on the project FRESH (in German)

© Federal Agency for Food and Agriculture

(in German)


  • Fraunhofer IVV
  • EVONIK Resource Efficiency GmbH
  • Wipak Walsrode GmbH
  • Siegwerk Druckfarben AG & Co. KGaA
  • Albis Plastic GmbH
  • MuWe Fleischhandels GmbH


The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (funding reference no. 281 A100116).