smart labels

Like so many others in grocery stores these days, I almost always take a look at the backs of packages for product information. There are a few nutrition facts that I like to check out as well as the all-important expiration date. Nobody wants to eat spoiled food, right? Those dates are also handy when you’ve already bought the items, they’re sitting in your fridge, and you can’t quite recall when you bought them. Being able to verify “best by” and expiration dates is key to avoid the possibility of ingesting spoiled food and getting sick. There are also those instances where the expiration date on the milk, for example, is still in the future, but the smell after pouring it into your cereal disagrees. What if there was a better way? According to a recent article in Futurism, there is: “smart labels.”

Smart Labels Take Out the Guess Work

Imagine that in addition to the standard product and nutritional information labels on food products, another piece of information — a smart label — was included on the package? These smart labels would give you easy and instantaneous access to information about thousands of food, beverage, personal care, household and pet care products. The paper labels provide a sensing platform that reacts when food contaminants and other free radicals are emitted that indicate spoilage. This technology will not only change how consumers buy products and what they buy but may also impact supply chains and consumer products manufacturing in the future.

Scientists are investigating how this technology can impact day-to-day life. The technology is in its infancy, but the researchers envision incorporating this development into future labels to give clear readouts of when it’s time to toss spoiled food or cosmetics. The sensors are also good for much more than keeping you from drinking curdled milk.

Smart Labels May Go Beyond Food Spoilage

Other possible applications include authenticating teas and wines by their antioxidant content, searching for new medicinal herbs in the Amazon, or eventually detecting salmonella and E.coli to prevent food poisoning. The relatively low costs of these devices open up a wide variety of possibilities for remote areas of the world, and could even help to save lives by simply having a smart label on a product. In addition, this technology can be used to streamline the distribution and manufacturing of a product, determine future forecasts and raw material needs. This is the trend of the food and beverage and consumer products industries today, and it’s important to stay on top of it.

What are your thoughts on smart labels and the current trends in the food and beverage and consumer products manufacturing industries? Join the conversation!