Want A New Way To Know When Your Food Has Expired?

There are times when expiration dates can be confusing and inaccurate. Sometimes they say "sell by" but don't tell you how long you have left. Others give you just a date and no explanation of what it means. Many foods last beyond the date. So the time may have come for Bump Mark. It is a way of telling if your package of food is still fresh without having to decipher the date. This way a label changes and becomes bumpy as the food ages.

Bump Mark (Image via Behance)Bump Mark (Image via Behance)

Bump Mark is currently one of the finalists for the James Dyson Award and the prize of $45,000. The James Dyson Award is meant to help encourage, inspire, and celebrate new generations of design engineers. It is open to current and recent design engineering student and run by the James Dyson Foundation. The ideas entered in the competition are a great way for the rest of us to see what the next generation of designers is ready to bring to the world.

Bump Mark (Image via Behance)Bump Mark (Image via Behance)

This new label essentially detects the environment around it and begins to change as the food ages and expires. The label expresses freshness tactilely so that when it is smooth your food is fresh. As the freshness leaves the bumps can be felt by touching label. This idea would be especially helpful to those with visual impairments.

Bump Mark (Image via Behance)Bump Mark (Image via Behance)

The way it works is that gelatin is applied over a plastic sheet with bumps in it.  Because the gelatin is solid it hides the bumps at first. These two layers are then sandwiched between two sheets of plastic film. As the gelatin decays it becomes liquid and the bumps become apparent to the touch. This lets you know that the food has expired. Gelatin is used because it is a protein and decays at the same rate as protein-based foods. This means that it is decaying at the same rate as the food in the package and can be more accurate than a printed date label.

Bump Mark (Image via Behance)Bump Mark (Image via Behance)

This invention already has a patent pending and the designer, Solveiga Pakstaite, is seeking a commercial partner to move this idea into production. She is also working on a vegetable-based label so that vegetarian foods will also be easier to identify as fresh.

I know that this type of labeling would be especially helpful to me when I'm rummaging through the fridge without my reading glasses. The one question I have is -- does this only work while the package is unopened or continue once the package is opened. I'm guessing from the process of the gelatin that it would work even after the package is opened.

Sources: James Dyson Foundation, Behance, Trend Hunter