The statistics can be staggering: one in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year (that’s nearly 53 million people). A very likely place for food poisoning is in the home: the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that for the years 2009-2010, 21 percent of foodborne disease outbreaks occurred in a private home, the cause being undercooking or leaving the food out for too long at an unsafe temperature.
While most food poisoning victims will recover without any lasting effects from their illness, for some, the effects can be devastating and -– for an estimated 3,000 Americans – deadly.
With a goal of helping reduce such illnesses, Chromatic Technologies Inc. (CTI) has announced development of patent-pending ‘reveal inks’ that provide “return to fridge” reminders to such vulnerable products as milk, yogurt, salsa, pickles and ketchup.
“Most parents know that food safety at home is a big deal, but they need help understanding how long they can keep something out of the fridge,” said Patrick Edson, CTI’s chief marketing officer. “Food companies are understandably hesitant to put warning labels on their packaging, so the problem continues to exist. The simple solution is a ‘return to fridge’ reminder that appears on packaging when the product starts to warm up and the product can become vulnerable to spoilage. When the temperature is fine, the reminder is ‘off.’ When the package is getting warm, the reminder turns ‘on.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends any refrigerated food should be discarded if it has been in temperatures above 40° F. (4.4° C.) for over two hours.
CTI’s “reveal inks” can be printed cans, paper labels, cartons and film and is powered by a combination of thermochromic inks. When the product, such as milk, is at a safe temperature, the message reads “Drink Milk,” but when the carton reaches a target warm temperature (e.g., 40° F. or 4.4° C.), a color will disappear revealing a “return to fridge” reminder to the consumer. CTI’s process allows the message, which is enabled to be ‘on’ and ‘off’ throughout the life of the package, to be customized.