Innovative new packaging by a Norwegian company may soon render traditional “sell by” and expiration dates past their prime.
TimeTemp is developing an intelligent self-adhesive label that measures and indicates product freshness via an easy-to-read graphic. Each label contains a range of non-toxic chemicals that analyze and react to time and temperature, using color changes to display the results.
The initial chemical reaction begins when the product is packaged and continues as the product moves from packaging to display to purchase. A bar on the label indicates the freshness level of the product inside and marks when the product should be either sold or consumed, based on the degradation of the actual product. Since the label takes into account the temperatures to which a product has been exposed, it results in a more accurate indication of the product’s condition and quality. The company hopes that labeling products with more accurate indicators of freshness will reduce product waste–food retailers throw away more than 50,000 tons of food each year in Norway alone.
While only a prototype of the label currently exists, TimeTemp plans to bring it to market in 2011 and is working with a number of international food producers to develop the label.