How polymeric sensors can prevent food waste: expiration date reinvented.

01 January 2019 → 31 December 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Other chemical sciences
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Nutrition and dietetics
  • Engineering and technology
    • Process engineering
    • Polymeric materials
  • Agricultural and food sciences
    • Agricultural animal production
    • Food sciences and (bio)technology
Dye Polymer sensor
Project description

This proposal addresses one of the most important challenges of our society the food loss and food waste around the globe. The main sector contributing to food waste are the consumers. Most consumers mistakenly believe that expiration dates on food indicate how safe the food is to consume, however these dates are not related to the risk of food poisoning or foodborne illness. These dates solely indicate freshness used by manufacturers to convey when the product is at its peak. Although most food is still edible after the expiration date, it is disposed prematurely. In addition, most of the household food is discarded even before the expiration date is reached, due to an uncertainty of its freshness. Within this project a sensor will be designed to provide an easy-to-read, objective measurement on food edibility. The inedibility of food originates from the growth of bacteria. These microorganisms produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) resulting in a foul odour. The sensor will consist of organic dyes placed on polymer nanofibers and when the threshold is exceeded the sensor will change its color indicating that the organic compounds in the food are exceeding the predetermined limits.