In the past couple of weeks the Wasted Food blog has reported on two different small-in-size-but-significant uses of technology to help reduce food from being wasted before it even gets sold.

The first is an idea from Japan. It’s a Fresh Label -- a sticker in an hourglass shape on meat that would go dark when the meat becomes unsafe.

The Fresh Label design works by detecting ammonia emanating from the product within and fading out accordingly. Once the ammonia level reaches a level deemed unsafe, the label will no longer be readable. It's a clever system that can't easily be manipulated, and provided it's reasonably cost-efficient, we could see it being adopted in large scale.
The other is a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag that will track pallets of food throughout their journey.
The RFID tags measure the temperature of each pallet every 15 minutes of the journey and, upon arrival at its destination, wirelessly transmit the info to a computer.

From that point, a program calculates the remaining shelf life of the fruit. That info allows retailers to determine which strawberries are ripest and should be put on display first.

Both of these technologies have the potential to lead to more accurate expiration dates on packages of food. Since the actual freshness of the food would be better known when it arrives at the store, expiration dates could be based on that knowledge and not as Wasted Food says, “a cautious best guess.”

Images: to-genkyo; midnightcomm 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.