The new technology from the UK is a "biologically accurate food expiry indicator."

By Mike Pomranz
March 20, 2018
Photo by Burke/Triolo Productions via Getty Images

If a gallon of milk is marked to go bad on a certain date, how do we know that info is accurate? The milk inside is working on its own timetable, and isn't literally linked to the printed expiration date in any way.

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A new style of scientifically-designed labels scheduled to begin testing in the United Kingdom is hoping to solve this issue—and it provides results you can literally feel.

The London-based food tech company Mimica has teamed up with the dairy giant Arla to trial a new type of “bumpy” food label called Mimica Touch, described by the startup as “a biologically accurate food expiry indicator calibrated to experience decay at the same rate as food.” The label contains a gel that breaks down based on changes in the food and the outside temperature.

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As the shelf life of the product goes down, the bumps on the label go up. As a result, even though the products are still given a “best before” date, consumers can tell the item’s “true expiry” once they can feel the bumps. According to the Telegraph, the new labels are intended to help cut food waste by providing a more accurate picture of when a food has gone bad as opposed to traditional use-by dates that typically err on the side of caution.

“Expiry dates are not that great to go by. It all really depends on your fridge and how well you look after your food,” Mimica founder Solveiga Pakstaite explained in a promotional video. “The bump mark is a simple add-on to food packaging, and it decays exactly the way your food does and lets you know exactly when your food goes off. It is really simple to read: If it feels smooth it means your food is safe and only when it feels bumpy is it time for the bin dump.”

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Though Mimica has won plenty of awards and recognition for its waste-reducing technology, this new partnership will be the first time that Mimica Touch has been trialed by a commercial brand. “Our first step is to test consumer feedback on the product,” an Arla spokesman said, “but we are excited by the possibility Mimica labels might bring in reducing food waste by giving a far more accurate indication of product expiration than date labels.” The dairy company said it plans to begin those test in the UK later this year. Assuming the company is happy with the results, a commercial rollout would happen after that.

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