There are plenty of foods that can go bad if they are not taken care of properly, and anyone who has eaten spoiled food knows the consequences. Knowing if food has been out of the fridge too long by just looking at the packaging would be a huge benefit.
Chromatic Technologies Inc. (CTI), Colorado Springs, CO, a specialist in thermochromic, photochromic and other special effect inks, may have the solution. CTI recently announced development of patent-pending “reveal inks” that provide “Return to Fridge” reminders to such vulnerable products as milk, yogurt, salsa, pickles and ketchup. These new inks can help combat the effects and possible deadliness of food poisoning, which affects nearly 53 million people yearly.
Patrick Edson, CTI’s chief marketing officer, said the “reveal inks” consist of thermochromic inks, which are activated by outside temperature. CTI’s “reveal inks” can be printed on cans, paper labels, cartons and film.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service offers guidelines that recommend refrigerated food should be discarded if it has been in temperatures above 40°F. (4.4° C.) for more than two hours.
CTI offered milk as one example. When milk is at a temperature cooler than 40°F, a message reads “Drink Milk.” When the carton warms to above the 40°F mark, a color will disappear, and a “return to fridge” message appears.
While these inks offer alerts in order to preserve foods, Edson explains that they do not provide predictions or warrantees on spoilage.
“The ink is not irreversible,” Edson said. “CTI avoids any claims of alerting consumers if their milk is spoiled (age will do that). Our focus is on helping alert people when the milk needs to go back into the refrigerator to extend freshness.”
Edson said there are plenty of products where these “reveal inks” can benefit consumers.
“Anything that needs to be stored cold and makes multiple trips in and out of the fridge, such as cream, ice cream, yogurt, butter, cottage cheese, deli meats and cheeses, are ideal,” he said. “It also works for products sold warm and then stored cold after opening, such as salsa, ketchup and pickles.”