The fight against food waste: New Food Scanner detects durability

The Scanner determines whether food can still be consumed

This is still good or off? This is a question millions of people, if you stand in front of the fridge. Out of uncertainty, many choose to Throw away and dispose of food that are often still in excellent condition. The environmental Foundation WWF Germany made recently in a study of attention to the fact that in Germany alone, every year tens of millions of tons of land still edible food needlessly thrown away. A new Scanner in pocket-sized format could mitigate this development. It detects whether or not a product is durable or not.

The Fraunhofer Institute recently presented a small Scanner that is by means of infrared light in the situation, the actual Freshness of food. The device sends the data to the Smartphone, where they can be viewed through an App. So, for example, the consumer and the supermarket operator can check whether foods are spoiled or not. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft introduced the Scanner in a recent press release on the website of the Institute.

Scan instead of throw away

The affordable and portable Scanner in the future to ensure that less food is thrown away, and despite a small beauty error, or an expired shelf-life date is still edible. No matter whether the goods is packaged or not – the so-called near-infrared Sensor provides information about the fresh degree of the scanned product. In addition, the user receives information about how many and which ingredients does the food.

Ease of operation and high mobility

“Infrared light is exactly on the sent product, then measures the spectrum of the reflected light,” explains project Manager Dr. Robin Gruna, the functioning of the process. On the basis of the absorbed wavelengths, the device can draw conclusions about the chemical composition of the product. In the laboratory, the near-infrared spectroscopy was used already for a long time, supplemented physicist Julius Krause, a member of the development team. New, however, is that this technology is now cost-effective and mobile available.

More transparency for consumers

As the developers report, can detect the small Scanner still more than just the durability. He checked the authenticity of the product. “Food is often forged, for example, are sold in trout than salmon,” explains Krause. Also, such information could find with the device. For example, let a adulterated olive oil recognize.

The limits of the scanner

The development team also points to the limits of the new device. It rate only the quality of the product of homogeneous food, so foods that are made up of several ingredients. Fruit, vegetables, unprocessed meat and yogurt for the device, for example, is not a Problem. Products like Pizza and ready meals according to the current state of research is not so easy to check. In a further project this is, however, in the future, using imaging spectroscopy, fusion approaches with color images as well as spectral sensors can also be possible.

How to evaluate the Scanner is the food?

According to information from the development teams of the Scanner measured the infrared spectra using intelligent Algorithms, the search for relevant Patterns and regularities in the measured values. “Through Machine Learning, we can increase the detection potential,” says OST. The project Manager explains this process using the example of minced meat. The Scanner measures the infrared spectra of the minced meat and supplemented to spoil the data with statistical methods, for microbial. From this, the device does the remainder of the edibility of the meat is derived. In extensive testing, the Scanner achieved a good agreement with the actual number of bacteria.

Analysis by mobile phone

For the end user, the Scanner sends via Bluetooth the data to the Smartphone. In the next step, the data will be analyzed by a Cloud-based database and an App.

When will be the device available

In the beginning of 2019, the device will come in super markets. In the connection to be tested, as consumers adopt the device. The project Manager is already planning for further areas of application. For example, you could use the System, to distinguish in order to plastics, wood, textiles or minerals from each other, and to classify. “The area of application of the device is versatile, it only needs to be appropriately trained,” says OST. (vb)