No matter how hard we try, something in the pantry or the fridge is always going bad, and that means huge amounts of the food we buy ends up wasted.
There have been some interesting projects lately to try to head off food waste beforehand, like those cool little devices you can put in the crisper drawer to keep produce from wilting.
Or the apps that let you order groceries that are about to hit their sell-by dates at a big discount.
Here’s another big step forward on that front, from a research team at Imperial College London: food freshness sensors.
These are little sensors embedded in the packaging of meat and fish that detect the gases that show up when food spoils.
They’re food-safe and biodegradable, and they connect to smartphone apps, so if you want to know if the meat is still edible, you can hold your phone up to the package and check.
And they’re much more accurate than those use-by dates.
Amazingly, these high-tech sensors are not high price; they cost about two cents each to make.
But even if they had larger price tags, the amount of food waste they’d prevent would almost certainly cover that cost and more.
And if the sensors are checking the food for you, that means you don’t have to open up that potentially gross package of whatever’s in the back of the refrigerator and hope it doesn’t fail the smell test.
If you like talking about sensors, I just learned that there is a place for you: the 2019 Sensors Expo and Conference later this month in San Jose, California.
It’s a three day event with a veritable who’s who in the world of sensors and sensing technology, everything from enormous space telescopes to smart cities to building better artificial eyes for robots.
And they’ll be giving out the Best of Sensors Awards for the year as well, which really ought to be called the Sensies.
Food freshness sensors could replace ‘use-by’ dates to cut food waste (Imperial College London)