The US-based company, which provides sensing solutions to safeguard human health, water/food supply and the environment, has developed a dye capable of detecting the presence of oxygen which can be readily integrated into existing sealed packaging methods. Though primarily aimed at maintaining quality control for the food and drink sector, the technology could have wider implications and impact a more diverse cross-section of industries.
The dye can’t be detected by the human eye but could potentially be integrated into both flexible and rigid packaging containers themselves, as well as individual components such as films, caps and corks.
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President of Photonic BioSystems, Dr David Putnam, commented:
“Our technology checks to see if the packaging maintains the low levels of oxygen or if oxygen has crept in throughout the chain. The ability to incorporate the dye into any sealed packet and make it oxygen sensitive with no external dot is something no-one else can do. If offers the protection of the contents from contamination and the technology to measure the integrity in package and ensure it hasn’t been tampered with.”
The technology needed to pick up the dye can pass through other materials, including labels, and is even capable of measuring the oxygen level in the gas phase environment of a dry package, in the headspace of a liquid package, or of dissolved oxygen in fluids and beverages.
Dr Putnam explained that the dye was intended to be added to existing packaging polymers during the raw materials production phase, so it wouldn’t be necessary for a brand new packaging product to be created, lowering the cost both monetarily and in time expended.
The Doctor continued:
“Putting our sensing dye into packages ensures all packages are checked for quality control and not just limited samples that are taken if you use labels or dots and just check certain packages.”
The instrumentation scanner needed to check the integrity of each package would be small enough to be hand-held, meaning the portable device could be utilised throughout the production process and eventual supply chain in real-time. The developers have also stated that the system complies with all necessary food safety laws.