Wrappers to 'sniff out' freshness
Published 26/04/2010 | 07:12
Smart plastic wrappers could in future let shoppers know when fruit and veg is ripe and fresh enough to buy.
Scientists are developing hi-tech packaging capable of testing the quality of groceries.
The idea is to incorporate sensors into mass-produced plastic materials that "sniff out" chemicals.
"These sensors will be used for measuring temperature and humidity and more advanced markers that indicate produce quality," The Engineer magazine reported.
The wrapping would also have the ability to transmit information wirelessly.
EU-funded Swiss researchers led by Dr Danick Briand, from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne are heading the FlexSmell project.
They will be working with British colleagues from Manchester and Sheffield universities.
One aim is to design sensors in packaging that can detect ethylene gas, which stimulates the ripening of fruit.
Found at trace levels, the gas provides a measure of ripeness.
Another chemical target is hexanol, which is emitted from fruit and vegetables and provides an indicator of food deterioration.