A bright, young engineer has developed a label which could result in the end of use-by dates placed on food.
The label, designed by the 22-year old Solveiga Pakstaite, changes texture as the food within the package starts to deteriorate. The sticker contains gelatine and starts off as a smooth label, but starts developing bumps due to the gelatine decay.
A smooth label implies the food is good to eat and a label with bumps means it should be thrown out. This can be determined by running your finger across the label.
Miss Pakstaite said she used gelatine because it is a protein, which decays at the same rate as foods that are protein-based, such as cheese, milk and pork. She said the gelatine is able to be adapted to match the expiry period of food by changing its concentration. This means that the higher the concentration, the longer the gel will remain solid. She added that the label is simply copying what the packaged food is doing, which means the expiry information is far more accurate than the printed version.
Miss Pakstaite has applied to patent her idea and is discussing the commercial development of it with several companies. If it is produced, it will aid in solving the massive waste problem that is created by inaccurate use-by dates. In Britain, around seven million tons of food is discarded annually, costing each family around £480.
Solveiga Pakstaite completed her design and technology degree at Brunel University, London, during the summer. She gained inspiration for her idea after working blind people during her studies. She wanted to create a solution to enable consumers who are visually impaired to obtain expiry information about the foods they purchase, as currently the only way to do this is by looking at a printed label.
She said she knew that the solution would have to be appealing to sighted people too as the reality is that any new solutions are only implemented by companies if the majority find it useful. This prompted her to find a cheap solution that could be used by both sighted and visually impaired people to gain information about the food they purchased.
Miss Pakstaite has been announced the British winner of the James Dyson Award for product money, which carries a £2000 prize.
She is set to be entered into the international Dyson’s contest.
Image Credit: James Dyson Award