Cornell University scientists are developing a new milk carton technology that gives wholesalers, retailers and consumers accurate shelf life information.
According to the scientists, the new technology should give consumers precise ‘use before’ dates, helping reduce unnecessary food waste.
Cornell’s Milk Quality Improvement Program is being funded by Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), New York State Dairy Promotion Order, and dairy processing company Chobani.
According to professor Martin Wiedmann, the project’s principal investigator, the new tech allows for the application of digital agriculture tools directly onto the milk cartons.
“This helps decrease food waste, since consumers get rid of milk too fast,” says Wiedmann. “We can accomplish this while improving the sustainability of our food supply.”
The best by date imprinted on milk cartons and other foods indicates when a product is likely at peak quality.
However, consumers often interpret the dates as an expiration and discard the milk without realizing it’s still safe to drink, reports FFAR.
Wiedmann and his team are mulling on embedding QR codes on milk cartons to offer specific information about the milk.
These could include information about the originating farm, the fluid milk processing plant and possible microbial influences, as well as a separate indicator that records carton temperature and time.
Aaron Adalja, an assistant professor of food and beverage management, claims that the new process could help improve shelf life dates and offer a better shopping experience for both retailers and consumers alike.
“If a retailer can accurately predict when food is going to spoil, for example, this may be an opportunity to use dynamic pricing to incentivize consumption before the milk spoils.”
“At the same time, we don’t want to create a price incentive for consumers to waste milk, so we need to study economic interests to understand how precise shelf life dates can affect consumer behavior and waste.”
Image and content: istockphoto/Cornell University