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Meat and fish could get freshness status bar

Step aside, "best by" date. The risk of buying spoiled meat could be further diminished with a new sensor film from the Fraunhofer Research Institution.

There's nothing like rotten fish to stink up your day. A new sensor film changes from yellow (fresh) to blue (rotten) to indicate this fish isn't something you want swimming in your stomach. Fraunhofer EMFT

Wouldn't it be great if pre-packaged meat and fish came with a health status bar like characters get in some video games?

It can be difficult to tell the difference between rotten and fresh meat or fish. Even after a couple of hours in the open air, meat can often look normal to cook, when in actuality it's teeming with bacteria that create toxins that can harm our health. A sensor film developed by the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Modular Solid State Technologies EMFT in Munich could change the way we judge meat freshness in the future.

The way the film works is simple, and only requires attaching the color-changing label to the packaging. When meat decays, it releases smelly amine molecules that the film reacts to by changing color. Bright yellow means everything is fresh, while blue indicates you may be on the next train to botulism. What makes this prospective technology so interesting is the fact that it's low cost (and therefore attractively scalable to the massive meat industry), and doesn't come in direct contact with the actual food.

"Food safety is ensured by a barrier layer between the sensor film and the product itself," explained Anna Hezinger, a scientist at EMFT. "This barrier is only permeable to gaseous amines. The indicator chemicals cannot pass through."

The sensor could revolutionize our grocery shopping experience by adding an additional peace of mind outside of the sometimes untrustworthy "best by" date found on most meat packaging. Now I just need to learn to cook.