Colour changing food labels – the future?

In todays tech-savvy economy, it seems that virtually every facet of a product can be made to be more engaging, insightful or even interactive. As the broader fields of research and de-sign begin to more deeply intersect with product manufacturing, consumers are witnessing a new era of information freedom and consumer empowerment, particularly when it comes to food production. Now, such advancements have been taken even further ahead by the rollout of colour-changing food labelling, designed specifically to help consumers better un-derstand the particular freshness level of a product they may have already purchased or are considering purchasing in-store. The colour changing labelling, which is commonly attached to meat products, re-sponds both to the surrounding temperature of an area (a common indicator of freshness), as well as the release of particular gases within the meat product itself which are common indi-cators of decomposition and, consequently, rot. Although some of the more cost-efficient labelling schemes being deployed today rely on an ammonia-based strip for accurate fresh-ness forecasting, experts have swiftly moved to assure the general public that these labels remain fully safe and do not pose a risk to human health.
More than anything, it is quite interesting to observe to what extent food labels have become such an integral component of general manufacturing and, most importantly, corpo-rate responsibility. Thanks to an increasingly large number of high-profile activism campaigns regarding nutrition and food labelling, companies are being forced to develop new systems of education and transparency which ensure that customers have all of the information they need to make an informed decision about their product. Of course, it is impossible to ensure that all customers are capable of effectively understanding the full implications of a given in-gredient or set of ingredients, but it is the hope of activists that more simple indicator sys-tems, such as the colour changing freshness strips described here, will help usher in a new era of awareness which prevents a staggeringly large number of food-borne illness cases on an annual basis.
It is also interesting to observe what a significant role research institutions and scien-tists are now playing in the food industry within roles that do not specifically relate to nutrition and food science. The development of these new labels by a team of researchers at Queens University Belfast is proof enough that science can deliver beneficial results within all facets of the massive food production industry. More information about these colour changing strips will likely be made available in the coming months.