British multinational retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) will trial a new laser ‘tattooing’ technology from Spain-based Laser Food to replace traditional sticky labels on supermarket fruit.

The retail chain will use the technology to mark logos and use-by dates on the fruit’s skin without causing any damage to the product inside. A laser reads a coloured liquid that can mark images and text onto the skin of the fruit directly. It also works on soft fruits such as tomatoes.

Initially, the company will trial the technology on oranges in various branches in the next few months. M&S plans to extend the technology to other foods if the trial with orange is successful.

Laser Food developed the technology in 2009. It has been in talks with the European Union to obtain approval since then, which was granted in June 2013 for chemicals such as iron oxides and hydroxides, hydroxypropyl, methyl cellulose and polysorbates on the skins of fruit. Use of these chemicals creates a contrast to allow the laser markings to appear clearly, while preventing the laser from penetrating the skin of the fruit.

Already in use in countries including Russia, Poland, France and Spain, the technology can also be used to mark labels, logos and QR codes on the fruits.

Image: M&S will initially trial the laser tattoo technology on oranges. Photo: courtesy of satit_srihin /

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