Sensing Freshness

Can “electronic sensor circuits” reduce food waste by judging food freshness (through measuring acidity levels) more accurately than expiration dates? Yes. But…

-But that’s not saying much, as expiration dates aren’t all that accurate.

-But so could your own sensors–of smell, sight and taste.

-But these food sensors are currently too expensive for mainstream adoption.

-But, the advent of plastic sensors could make them economically feasible in 5 years!

There is some precedent for using this technology, as sensors are currently used at the pallet level to track temperature during shipping and unloading. And there are already freshness sensors  to detect gases given off by meat and fruit.

Yet, it remains to be seen when the new plastic, inexpensive sensors will be ready and whether industry and consumers will adopt it. In the meantime, we still have that oh-so-elegant, low-tech sensor: the old sniffer. 

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  1. Posted March 18, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this, I do think this type of thing would be very helpful for the people who either don’t or can’t (for medical reasons) trust their noses, and instead opt to throw stuff out even when it is perfectly fine. Also, unfortunately, there are some foodbourne illnesses that are completely without odor or visual signs, so this type of thing could be very handy for certain items. Thanks again!

  2. Kaylen
    Posted March 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    It’s a neat idea but I wouldn’t buy one.

    One thing that’s reduced food waste in my life is a community of people with different tastes and tolerances for items past their expiry date. It doesn’t bother me to eat food past its expiry date, so my housemate lets me know when she has food that she won’t eat and I finish them up. I don’t eat meat, so if she offers items that I won’t eat I have friends who I can pass those items along to. (Ditto if she offers more than I can finish.) Or I give the meat to my dogs if it’s unprocessed. (Funny how I have higher nutritional standards for my dogs than for humans in some ways.)

    My neighbor (a fellow vegetarian and single person) and I often swap food, too – if I make extra muffins I drop them off, or if she makes extra soup she drops it off.

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