‘Smart Labels’ that detect harmful contaminants may soon be available

Imagine if consumers and manufacturers alike were able to determine if a shipment of food products contained E. coli, Listeria or Salmonella just by looking at the color of the label. Now, thanks to a team of six Canadian scientists, this could soon be a real possibility. 

A polymer-based "smart label" is currently in development at the University of Alberta, according to Food Safety News. The labels will turn blue or white in the presence of harmful bacteria or pathogens. 

"To the naked eye, it looks very much like a normal plastic material," Dr. Dominic Sauvageau, a chemical engineer and researcher in biotechnology, recently told the Edmonton Journal. "The idea is to have a material that's easy to make, that is cheap, that can give us a visual or measurable response when a pathogen is present."

The Alberta region has previously struggled with foodborne illnesses, with two E. coli outbreaks and a case of Salmonella reported so far this year. As a result, the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency have awarded researchers a grant of $220,000 to increase the safety of the province's lucrative cattle industry. 

This innovative use of labeling is just one example of how technology may soon change the way we perceive the utility of labels. While today they are predominantly used for marketing and nutritional information purchases, they could soon be preventing the spread of serious diseases.

DuraFast is committed to providing our customer with the very latest advancements in labeling and printing technology. We currently stock a complete range of color label printers from Epson, Seiko, Memjet and more, with all the printing accessories organizations need to ensure a positive consumer perception of their product. 

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