The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a sensor that detects ethanol emitted from the spoilage of foods into the headspace of a package.
Ethanol and carbon dioxide are considered to be the main volatile spoilage metabolites in fresh-cut fruit.
The sensor is part of a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag and it transmits information about the freshness of the food in the package to the retailer or customer.
The data collected by the sensor will be transmitted wirelessly from the package by using an RFID reader.
The storage of freshness data in the cloud will allow the comparison of food quality with its previous or later condition.
VTT said that the sensor and the RFID tag can be manufactured into a label or sticker and easily attached to a food package.
The sensor not only facilitates control over food quality across the distribution chain but also prevent waste caused by spoilage.
More than 100t of food products get wasted in Europe every year, with the amount expected to increase to 126 million tonnes in 2020.
The ethanol sensor can also be utilised in other applications such as alcometers.
VTT is currently aiming to win patent for the new development and is looking for partners to commercialise the sensor.
Image: The data collected by the sensor will be transmitted wirelessly from the package by using an RFID reader. Photo: courtesy of VTT.