Better than expiry dates, our sense of smell can often be relied upon to check whether foods are still edible. Indeed, more and more voices are being raised to promote the use of this sense as a tool for checking the freshness of food. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, a student has developed a hand-held smell sensor that detects the freshness level of fruit.
In the UK, the fight against food waste is regularly in the news, with headlines calling out the expiry date system as one of its driving forces.
Indeed, an estimated 6.6 million tonnes of food are thrown away each year by British households, according to a report by the NGO Wrap, unveiled last October.
Recently, Marks & Spencer stores opted to remove the use-by dates on packaged fruit and vegetables, and the Morrisons supermarket chain removed expiry dates from its own-brand bottles of milk.
Meanwhile, a British man has gone viral on TikTok by experimenting with various foodstuffs to show how long they can still be eaten after the date written on the packaging. Indeed, people in the UK are increasingly being encouraged to trust their sense of smell to help reduce food waste.
Picking up on this idea of using common sense techniques to reduce the environmental impact of food waste, a student from Northumbria University – a reference in terms of research – has developed a kind of odor detector, capable of measuring the level of decay of a piece of fruit or a vegetable.
Presented by the design and innovation magazine Dezeen, this graduation project – unveiled earlier this month at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London – is actually equipped with a camera and a sensor that detects ethylene, the volatile gas that apples, bananas, potatoes, and various other fruits and vegetables emit when they decay.
It is a plant hormone that stimulates the ripening of fruit. The prototype was developed for fruit, but the creator specifies that various other sensors could potentially be added to the device to detect other types of gases emitted by food.
Called “snoot”, a British slang term for nose, the device is not only a freshness detector, it is also a recipe provider. Combined with a mini-printer, the invention issues suggestions for dishes to be prepared with the item it scans, according to the product's level of ripeness. – AFP Relaxnews