Nanosensors with PE will be able to sniff out food spoilage

Food Safety with Smart Packaging

Packaging built with Michigan State University (MSU) nano electronics expertise could help create a more intelligent supply chain, it claims. Researchers are working to develop smart packaging to improve the world’s food safety and security with the support of new grant of $500K from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Leading the team at MSU is Changyong Cao, an assistant professor in MSU’s School of Packaging and director of the Soft Machines and Electronics Laboratory., according to the report in Industry Intelligence. The purpose of the research is to help reduce the 30-40% of food production wasted around the world each year, he states.

Most current smart packaging designs rely on passive tools to share qualitative data, such as labels that change colour in response to temperature. With the new grant, Cao’s team is building a prototype smart packaging platform that actively monitors food and its environment, while transmitting quantitative data with flexible electronic tags.

Cao’s proposals to create intelligent packaging that would help ensure food is stored and handled properly as it makes its way through the supply chain.“We thought about how we could make the packages smarter, more intelligent, while bringing benefits to food safety and storage,”  he said, “The packaging itself may not cost a lot, but it’s value is actually very high in protecting food safety and consumers’ health.”

The flexible tags will equip packaging with an array of nanomaterials-based sensors that can keep tabs on temperature and sniff out signs of rotting and spoilage. The system will also include wireless transmitters to share that data with shippers and distributors.

“This will give you more quantitative data and, because of that, more confidence,” Cao explained. Although this grant is focused on food security, Cao stressed that the technology could be easily integrated into other supply chains for products that must be shipped and stored with special care, including vaccines and transplant organs.

Funding for the project, titled “Fully Printed Electronics and Energy Devices via Low-dimensional Nanomaterials for Smart Packaging,” began in February 2021. 

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