Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Laser makes sure food is fresh

Date:
October 20, 2011
Source:
Lund University
Summary:
Minced meat, bread, fruit juice and many other foods are packaged in a protective gas which extends their shelf life. There is currently no good method to check whether the packaging has the correct gas content. However, researchers have now developed a new laser instrument which could solve the problem. The first product is expected to be ready for market launch later in the autumn.

Minced meat, bread, fruit juice and many other foods are packaged in a protective gas which extends their shelf life. There is currently no good method to check whether the packaging has the correct gas content. However, researchers in Atomic Physics and Packaging Logistics have developed a new laser instrument which could solve the problem. The first product is expected to be ready for market launch later in the autumn.

Related Articles


"It will be the first non-destructive method. This means that measurements can be taken in closed packaging and the gas composition over time can be checked. This will make it possible to check a much higher number of products than at present," says Mδrta Lewander, Doctor of Atomic Physics at Lund University in Sweden.

Dr Lewander developed the technique in her thesis and now works as chief technical officer for the company Gasporox, which is commercialising the technology.

Today, spot checks are performed on individual samples, with the risk that damaged products could slip through.

"We hope that, in the long term, this type of equipment could also help to stop people throwing so much food away, because they would know that it is packaged as it should be," she says.

The product that will be launched in the autumn could be used to check and improve how airtight packaging is. Gasporox estimates that within two years the method could also be used as a means of quality control in production when products are packaged. In the future, shops could also use it to check the shelf life of their goods.

No plastic packaging is 100% airtight. How easily oxygen can enter depends on both the material and how well sealed the packaging is.

"It has been shown that part-baked bread, for example, doesn't always meet the mark," says Annika Olsson, Professor of Packaging Logistics at Lund University.

The technology can measure through almost all packaging materials.

"As long as light can pass through then we can measure. Almost all materials allow at least some light to pass. Even packaging that contains aluminium foil, for example some fruit juice cartons, often has some part that is not covered by the foil," says Mδrta Lewander.

At Lund University, research in the field is continuing. Patrik Lundin, a doctoral student in Atomic Physics, is now focusing on measuring carbon dioxide in packaging.

"It is important to measure both oxygen and carbon dioxide. Oxygen is most important, but there is also interest in carbon dioxide from the industry," says Mδrta Lewander.

The development work has been financed by several research grants from bodies including Vinnova and by private entrepreneurs and investors. The product that is being developed by Gasporox is manufactured by a part-owner of the company, the Norwegian company Norsk Elektro Optikk.

How the technology works:

The protective atmosphere that surrounds the food product in the packaging usually comprises carbon dioxide or nitrogen and contains little or no oxygen. Oxygen leads to oxidisation, bacteria growth and decay. By shining a laser beam into the packaging and studying the light that comes back, it is possible to see if the composition of the gas is correct. The laser beam measures the amount of oxygen.

The laser is connected to a handheld unit which is held against the sample. A handheld detector measures the light that comes out of the packaging and sends a signal to a computer.

The technology is based on a technique for measuring the gas composition of samples containing cavities. An early application was to diagnose sinusitis, by enabling doctors at a primary health centre to find out whether the sinuses were full of gas as they should be. Clinical studies have confirmed that the technique works, and this application is expected to be on the market within a year or two.

Background:

The idea of using lasers to measure food packaging came about by chance, when Sune Svanberg, Professor of Atomic Physics at Lund University and the father of this laser technology, met Annika Olsson, then a Reader in Packaging Logistics, on a management course at Lund University a few years ago. When they told one another what they worked with, they began to brainstorm possible areas of collaboration. At the time, there was a fierce debate going on in Sweden on the repackaging of minced meat by a major supermarket chain.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lund University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Lund University. "Laser makes sure food is fresh." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020084821.htm>.
Lund University. (2011, October 20). Laser makes sure food is fresh. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020084821.htm
Lund University. "Laser makes sure food is fresh." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020084821.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) — What to buy an experienced photographer or video shooter? There is some strong gear on the market from Nikon and GoPro. The AP's Ron Harris takes a closer look. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins