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Does the Milk Pass the Sniff Test?

Company creates packaging that accurately detects food spoilage.


How often do you sniff the milk container or the packaged cold cuts to see if your lunch or breakfast has gone by?

Braskem, a $7 billion plastics and chemical giant that makes the materials molded into bottle caps and reusable containers, is taking on the challenge by developing a solution that makes plastic food or beverage containers change color when products spoil by reacting to the changing pH levels of their contents, according to an article in the Washington Post. The so-called intelligent packaging is designed to supplement the sell-by dates included on packages, which often get overlooked or ignored by consumers. The special polymer would monitor indicators like pH changes and emit an external alert to consumers, distributors, and others in the food value chain by changing color when the product is no longer fit for consumption, the article said.

Braskem has partnered with Clemson University and Rio Grande do Sul Federal University in Brazil to create the intelligent packaging. While this kind of technology has been around for years, the Washington Post article says Braskem’s size and scale should be able to reduce costs, making the solution much more attractive to food manufacturers and retailers.

In the article, Braskem makes the case for its technology saying consumers rely too heavily on imprecise methods of testing food reliably (their noses, not sell-by dates), thus subject themselves to possible food poisoning.

This technology could do wonders for my fridge, which is feeding ground for out-of-date food products.

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