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Intelligent labels could revolutionise food communication

30 December 2020

According to new research the use of ‘smart labelling’ would help increase consumer trust in food producers. 

The EIT Food-funded Smart Tags project is working with consumers, producers and retailers to develop smart labelling similar to QR codes. These active and intelligent labels will allow shoppers to get rapid and better information about food and drinks they consume. 

Smart tags will enable consumers and other supply chain stakeholders to exchange and collect information at pre-purchase and post-purchase levels on different aspects of food and drink products such as whether the product in the package is spoiled, its freshness, temperature in the package, appropriateness for personal diet, sustainability, origin, potential allergens, recipes, and storage instructions.

The labelling system being developed could also enable producers and retailers to cut down on the amount of waste produced in packaging, and could also include detailed information on the origin of ingredients and shelf life.

Commenting on the research, Dr Giuseppe Nocella, associate professor in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading, said: “Consumers want to know more about the food they are eating not only before buying products, but also after having purchased them. They want to be assured in a friendly way not only about the quality, safety and sustainability of the food and drinks that they consume but also how to recycle and dispose these products. The Smart Tags project is looking at innovative packaging that could be adopted along different food and supply chains.

“These new systems of communication, which provide a much easier way for consumers to rapidly and directly check the quality and safety of their products, can be seen as a key factor to enhance trust from farm-to-fork, making food supply chains more transparent .”

The Smart Tag project is coordinated by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, but the consortium consists of research partners, food industry and technology developers from all over Europe. The partners are the University of Reading (UK), University of Warsaw (Poland), KU Leuven (Belgium), Matis (Iceland), AZTI (Spain), DouxMatok (Israel) and Maspex Group (Poland). The Smart Tag project is supported by EIT Food, a body of the European Union.

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