Improved food safety by sensor technology

Foods that are fresh to a high degree, such as raw meat and fish products, are susceptible to microbial spoilage processes. However, packaged products cannot be easily identified as fresh. Sensors integrated into food packaging can indicate the current freshness of the contents. In this way, food safety can be increased and food waste can be avoided at the same time. This possibility for real freshness monitoring would thus contribute significantly to the sustainable use of resources.

© Fraunhofer EMFT/ Bernd Müller
Sensors can measure the freshness status of perishable foods such as meat.

In the BMEL-funded FRESH joint project, Fraunhofer EMFT and Fraunhofer IVV are working with industrial partners to develop intelligent packaging with an integrated sensor function to indicate the microbiological quality of food. For this purpose, color change-based sensor materials (optical chemosensors), which respond to the presence of biogenic amines well below the odor threshold, are being integrated into food packaging. Microbial spoilage of meat and fish products produces volatile gases, which are used as an indicator of the freshness of these foods. The sensor packaging is designed to show a clear color reaction when a limit value of such gases is exceeded, thus reliably informing the consumer of the actual product quality simply by looking at the packaging without any further equipment. The intelligent packaging thus allows rapid quality and safety assessment of food products.


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Competence Field: Electrochemical Sensors

Project: Biosensors detect plant viruses