Sell-by dates annoy me. Well, it’s my kids’ strict adherence to them that narks.
Haven’t you got eyes in your head and a nose on your face? I ask them when they’re about to bin edible food. A glance and a sniff . . . ‘I’ll eat it!” I say with the exasperation in my voice matching their disdain for my choice.
Food producers rightly err on the side of caution when it comes to sell and use-by dates. The last thing they want is to cause food poisoning. But the effect of this caution — and my kids’ and others’ reliance on them, is millions of tons of edible food thrown away, 4M tons it’s said in the UK alone.
Solveiga Pakstaite, a young designer with a 1st class degree in industrial design and technology from Brunel under her belt only last year, was doing a research project on how on earth blind people could know relevant info on food labels — and came up with a device on food packets. A sheet of plastic with bumps on it. A Bump Mark no less.
These Bumps are gelatine, which deteriorates and becomes liquid at the same rate as the foodstuffs The gelatine then becomes a pliable jelly-like buffer; i.e. what she’s invented is an accurate bio-reactive food expiry label.
Still at the prototype stage, this invention has won the prestigious awards, including the 2014 James Dyson Award and is one of The Grocer’s Top New Talent. Solveiga hopes that her invention could be on some of our food packaging by the end of the year — and make a significant contribution to reduce our food waste mountain.