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Food & Drink

Scientists Develop Plastic Wrap That Changes Color When Food Goes Stale

Food wrapping that can tell people when their food is starting lose its freshness was developed by British scientists.

Researchers at Scotland's University of Strathclyde said Thursday that they developed a new type of “intelligent” plastic indicator that changes color to warn when food has exceeded its best-before date, has been poorly refrigerated or has broken or damaged packaging.

They said they hoped the packaging would help save food waste, since more than eight million tons of household food -- most of which could have been eaten -- is estimated to be thrown away every year in the UK alone.

The indicator could be used as a type of packaging known as modified atmosphere packaging, which prolongs the shelf life of food.

Previously, freshness indicators took the form of labels inserted into a package, but the researchers said they developed an indicator that is part of the packaging itself that would be much less expensive to produce.

Professor Andrew Mills, who led the research, said that "at the moment, we throw out far too much food, which is environmentally and economically damaging ... We hope that this will reduce the risk of people eating food which is no longer fit for consumption and help prevent unnecessary waste of food."

The packaging could be in shops within two years.