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Innovative food label wins national award

Use-by dates might soon become a thing of the past, thanks to the invention of a bioreactive food label which picked up the national James Dyson Scholarship Award.

Solveiga Pakštaitė, a 22-year-old Brunel University London Design alumna, created Bump Mark, a bioreactive food label that offers a clear indication of when food is starting to deteriorate. The gelatine label is completely smooth when the food is fresh, but once a bump develops, due to the gelatine breaking down, the food should be thrown away. As gelatine is protein, it decays at the same rate as protein-based foods like meat.

Solveiga was originally inspired by her research into unnecessary food wastage, use-by dates and improving food expiry information for blind and visually impaired people. The clear issue she found was that ‘best before’, ‘sell-by’ and ‘use-by’ dates all rely on visual identification. Food dates have also been criticised for being inaccurate or misleading, meaning that fresh food is often binned unnecessarily.

It’s an all too common occurrence; you’re hungry for a quick snack but the only thing left in the fridge is an open pack of sausages. You’re not sure how long they have been open or even how long they have been in the fridge, so should you take the risk and make that sausage butty or throw them straight in the bin? Most people would do the latter, even if the sausages are ok to eat, wasting perfectly good food. With the gelatine label, the consumer would be able to tell whether they are still edible or not by simply running their finger along the label.

Commenting on the project and the Dyson accolade, Solveiga said: “Winning was such an honour! I never expected it because it was always such an experimental project. I think that Brunel is a great place to push boundaries and I saw my Major Project as an opportunity to pursue something really different.”

“I had nothing to lose by developing this product, and I would encourage other design students to really use their time in education to stretch their imaginations.”

Solveiga has a patent pending on the invention and is talking to several contacts about taking the idea further.

Brunel has now won a National Dyson Award for the second year running, with Sam Etherington receiving the Engineering award last year for his wave generator