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.
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 displays the degree of food freshness based on color. Here, development involves integrating chemical sensor materials in food packaging so that it is possible to reliably determine the quality of the product at a single glance. The integrated sensors respond specifically to gases released when the products perish, triggering an obvious color reaction when a certain threshold is exceeded. In the future, the development of intelligent food packaging could have a very positive general impact: not only would it increase product safety, it would also reduce food waste at the end of the supply chain. The sensor packaging would reliably determine whether a product is still edible, no matter whether the best-before date had already expired or not. The project is well on the way to increasing sustainability in the food industry.