This image shows the plastic analog-to-digital converter (ADC). The ADC shown is still relatively large, but in its final form it will be smaller. Credit: Eindhoven University of Technology/Bart van Overbeeke.

 

Invention opens the way to packaging that monitors food freshness

by Staff Writers
Eindhoven, Netherlands (SPX) Mar 01, 2013

Millions of tons of food are thrown away each year because the ‘best before’ date has passed. But this date is always a cautious estimate, which means a lot of still-edible food is thrown away. Wouldn’t it be handy if the packaging could ‘test’ whether the contents are still safe to eat? Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology, Universita di Catania, CEA-Liten and STMicroelectronics have invented a circuit that makes this possible: a plastic analog-digital converter.

This development brings plastic sensor circuits costing less than one euro cent within reach. Beyond food, these ultra-low-cost plastic circuits have numerous potential uses, including, pharmaceuticals. The invention was presented last week at the ISSCC in San Francisco, the world’s most important conference on solid-state circuits.

Consumers and businesses in developed countries throw away around 100 kilograms of food per person, mainly because the ‘best before’ date on the packaging has passed. That waste is bad for consumers’ budgets and for the environment. Much of this wastage results from the difficulty in estimating how long food will stay usable. To minimize the risk of selling spoiled food to consumers, producers show a relatively short shelf life on their packaging.

Read more: Invention opens the way to packaging that monitors food freshness — Seed Daily.

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