About the project
Food waste has been something of a hot topic in the UK this year, with the Government having used a summit at London’s V&A Museum to launch a new commitment aimed at encouraging businesses, non-profits and individuals to halve their food waste outputs by 2030, in line with the SDGs.
But with the vast majority of the nation’s food waste mountain of 10.2 million tonnes annually being accounted for at consumer level – and with rapid population growth placing more of a strain on global food systems – the onus is now on innovations to develop systems and products which prevent food wastage at home and in workplaces.
One such product comes , where researchers have developed a material which changes colour when exposed to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – the chemicals created as microbes grow on dairy as it spoils. Made from a mixture of Schiff’s reagent, a substance which changes colour when it detects volatile organic compounds, and silicon dioxide, the liquid can be used to coat packaging such as milk bottle tops to tell users when their product is about to spoil. It is naturally purple and changes to a shocking pink in the presence of a high concentration of VOCs.
Given that around one-fifth of all dairy products produced globally are believed to be wasted, largely due to their short shelf lives, the research team sees the innovation having wide-reaching applications across the food and beverage industry. They are now working to integrate the material into a more sophisticated sensor capable of telling consumers how many days there are left until their dairy spoils.