A bio-reactive expiry label that decays at the same rate as food has been invented and it could potentially make a dent in the millions of tonnes of food wasted in the UK each year.
The Bump Mark label, designed by Solveiga Pakstaite from Brunel University, was named as the UK winner of the James Dyson Award for its innovative solution to a highly criticised problem.
It is estimated by the UN food report that seven million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK each year, largely as a result of unreliable best before dates.
Using a natural substance that can tangibly show when a food product is going off, the Bump Mark label can accurately determine whether or not it is safe to eat something.
"The Bump Mark contains gelatine - a protein - that reacts to environmental conditions, like temperature and light and anything that affects food," Pakstaite told IBTimes UK. "Gelatine sets solid but it has this property that when it is fully expired it loses its structure."
By placing the gelatine on top of a textured plastic sheet, it is possible to tell if food has gone off, as the label will feel bumpy instead of smooth.
It can be used with different foods with varying expiration dates, such as milk or meat, by increasing or decreasing the concentration of the gelatine, whereby the higher the concentration, the longer the label will last.
"Because of the time constraints of the project, I was only able to the label up to two or three weeks," Pakstaite said. "But I imagine that if you keep increasing the concentration, it should last for quite some time."
She will receive £2,000 From the Dyson Foundation to further develop the Bump Mark and will also enter the final international round for the James Dyson Award.