Reducing Waste – One Connected Food Item at a Time

#IoT for Good, Light Reading

Do you put your trust in the expiry date on your eggs, or in your nose? Or maybe you’re one of those who won’t even dare to smell them?

Well, you’re not alone. Today, about one third of the food produced in the world goes to waste. This of course has a negative impact on both the climate and the livelihoods of poor people. We wonder is this a problem to be solved with the help of IoT? Well there seems to be some solutions coming up:

In Sweden, a research team is developing a smart dynamic expiry date labeling system for food (called DYNAHMAT), so you won’t have to worry about whether that bottle of milk is good to go or not. The food item is equipped with smart sensors that keep track of the temperature during transport, handling and retail – all the way to your fridge. Based on this data, the quality and safety of the food can be predicted and the eat-by date is adjusted accordingly, for example to an earlier date if the food experienced high temperatures during its journey from farm to consumer. What’s unique about this system is that the food item itself is connected.

While Dynahmat is still only a research item, there are systems in use today that put sensors in the rooms and vehicles used for storing and transporting the food, one example being TinyTag. Although it doesn’t automatically adjust the eat-by date of the food, it does provide you with information on the temperatures the food has been through, and an indication of its quality and safety.

Want to know exactly what is inside that cookie you’re thinking of eating? The list of ingredients is a good place to start of course, but what if they missed out on something, or it’s not there in the first place? Wouldn’t it be great if we could just scan the food item, have the data analyzed instantly via the cloud and get all the information about calories, nutrition, gluten, chemicals etc. directly in our smart phone? It might sound too good to be true, but this is actually being developed by TellSpeq. Through a spectrometer scan, data can be gathered on the amount of particles being reflected on different wavelengths. This creates a unique footprint for each food item, which is then analyzed and presented to you in an easy way through a smart phone app.

Indeed, exciting things are happening in the Internet of Food. However, while waiting for these technologies to enter the market, what about trying to trust your nose once in a while?