A lot of food is thrown out because it passed its expiration date. But very often, the discarded products are still good. A gel tag could help curb this type of waste in the near future: Bump Mark lets you feel when food has actually gone bad.
Every year, 1.3 billion tons of edible food end up in the trash on a global level. Germany is no exception. And a substantial part of this senseless waste of resources could actually be avoided.
That is because we throw away a lot of products that could still be consumed. In particular, lots of fruits and vegetables are not purchased or end up in the trash because they don’t meet our aesthetic standards – they are crooked, have dents or are just no longer crisp. In that case, we simply need change our mentalities. However, dairy products, meat and fish also often land in the trash, because their expiry date has passed. But the expiry date is, in fact, no more than an indication of the minimal date of durability. This means that the product can still be palatable after the date has passed.
Of course, people are generally more cautious with meat and fish because with those food products, eating something spoiled can lead to serious consequences. A smart sticker could be the solution: London-based designer Solveiga Pakstaite developed a gelatine tag that simulates the actual preservability of steaks and yogurt.
Flat: eat it! Bumpy: don’t eat it!
Pakstaite named her product “Bump Mark”, and it describes how it works. The seal is made of four layers. In the middle, there is a gel layer made of gelatin which imitates the biological structure (and thus the preservability) of the product in question. Under that is a plastic sheet with indentations. These layers are sandwiched between two plastic films. When the product is fresh, the gelatine is solid, and the user can’t feel the dents under it. If the steak expires, so does the gelatine layer – it dissolves and the “Bumps” under it can be felt. That means: hands off! This could also be extremely helpful for blind and visually impaired users.
According to Pakstaite, gelatine degrades very similarly to animal protein products such as meat and dairy products because it is a natural product with a high protein content. This property can be used and adapted to match the decay rates of different food products.
The patent-pending invention is still being tested, as the safety of the gel tags must be ensured. The approval seal of an external test laboratory is still missing. Nonetheless, Bump Mark has already received numerous awards. In any case, it would be ideal for the gelatine sticker to live up to expectations and help reduce food waste.
This article is a translation of Lydia Skrabania's article "Bump Mark: Ein smarter Sticker gegen Food Waste" which was originally published in German on Reset.org.