Could Bump Mark Debunk Date Labels?

If you’re like me, you love innovations that prevent food from being wasted and hate the inefficiency of expiration dates. That’s why I’m high on Bump Mark, an in-package fresh food indicator now in development.

Solveiga Pakstaite, a recent university grad in Britain, created Bump Mark after winning the James Dyson Award to do so.

As you can see, here’s how it works: Each package of food would have an indicator strip with a small amount of gelatin calibrated to decompose at the same rate as the food in the package. When it does, the liquidy gelatin lets the user to feel the buried “Bump Marks” that signal the food isn’t safe to eat.

Bump Mark labels would offer an improvement to the dreaded date label because the former would be based on something more concrete than a conservative estimate of when that food should be eaten (the latter). It’s worth pointing out that while US date labels only speak to food quality, not food safety, UK date labels carry a bit more weight.

Additionally, Bump Mark could help communicate that food doesn’t suddenly expire on a specific date, but slowly wanes into diminished taste and texture before becoming dangerous to eat. It’s telling that the idea came from asking ‘how do blind people know when their food has gone bad if they can’t read the expiration date?’ That led to the realization that most of us are relying on the false certitude of expiration dates.

On the negative side, though, this kind of technology could prompt more packaged produce. In other words, more packaging. And that’s not great for the planet, nor is it good for people who like to customize the amounts of purchases. Although, in general, reducing packaging is less important than reducing wasted food because of food’s embedded natural resources. Increased produce packaging would also doom more waste in produce that doesn’t fit the package size.

Pakstaite says that her innovation will be available for mass adoption by the end of the year. It remains to be seen whether the British food industry will go for Bump Mark, but given the fervor for reducing food waste in the UK, I wouldn’t be surprised. And if it does become a common sight, Bump Mark could truly debunk the expiration date myth.

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