I wonder if the byproducts of decaying food emit specific, easily identifiable chemical signatures.
If so, perhaps it would be possible to create plastic wrap that changes colors when that the food starts to go bad, perhaps even going through a “use this soon” color before proceeding to the “don’t eat this” color.
This would be useful in those disposable Gladware or equivalent disposable plastic containers, too.
It could make cleaning out the refrigerator a color-coded experience.
2 thoughts on “Plastic Wrap as Food Safety Indicator”
Interesting idea. A little difficult, for several reasons.
One is that different types of food have different breakdown products, high protein foods usually give off ammonia and/or amines, low protein ones tend to be heavy in organic acids.
There is decay from stuff growing on it, breakdown of celluar structure, and chemical reactions such as oxidation. The third mostly ruins the taste and texture, the second makes the food unpleasant – slimy for example, the first can threaten health. The products from each will usually be rather different.
You could have several sensor layers, but checking for acids has the disadvantage that vinegar or pickled foods could trigger a warning. Matter of fact, many fermented and aged foods are “spoiled”, cheeses such as brie release both ammonia and acids, and consider S.E. Asia fish sauce.
Biological detectors might work better, tune them to detect DNA of the more common decay critters.
[…] I suggested this idea back in February 2005. […]
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