Shelf-life smart labels could hit shelves in 2013

Shelf-life smart labels could hit shelves in 2013

The innovative colour changing label developed by Heriot-Watt University, which tells consumers how fresh their food is could hit supermarket shelves next year.

Pete Higgins with the UWI (Use Within) Label

How it works

The label is applied at the point of production so when the consumer picks the jar of food off the shelf in the supermarket, the UWI Label is already there and is only activated when the jar is opened for the first time.

The label then displays how long it has been since the first opening by a series of squares turning green indicating that it is still safe to use. Once it has reached its “use within” period, the final square turns red warning you that it is no longer safe to consume and can now be discarded.

Working with Heriot Watt’s expertise

Spanning two of Heriot-Watt’s Campuses, Edinburgh and the Borders, experts were identified to evaluate the problem, and undertake research into the subject to find appropriate chemicals. With the help of funding grants, Robert Christie, Professor of Colour Chemistry & Technology, and Roger Wardman, Professor of Colour Science, supported the company in to identify a range of chemical systems which have the potential to fulfil the requirements of the UWI Label.

The next stage was to develop a working prototype to show to investors, and demonstrate the technology to investors.

Top Heriot-Watt University academic, Dr. Will Shu, was asked to collaborate on the scientific development and overall design of the UWI Label, with the aim of it becoming a standard feature on every food jar throughout the world.

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