Food Inspiration Magazine is the online magazine for foodservice professionals in search of inspiration and innovation.
The free subscription digital magazine is published eight times per year and is an abundant source of inspiration for professionals in the world of food and hospitality. Our first readers can be found in the U.S., Northern Europe and parts of Asia.
Foodies that have a more than average interest in food & drinks relate strongly to the content and style of the online publication as well. With the magazine we collect, enrich and spread inspiration.
INT21 No waste
INT20 Plant centric
INT19 Food and healthcare
INT18 Reach of the chef
INT17 Vote food
INT16 Menus of change
INT13 Future cooking
INT12 Understanding the millennials
INT11 Ownership to Usership
INT10 Plant Based
INT08 Reinventing Traditions
INT05 Shift Happens
INT04 Food & Responsibility
INT03 Food & Trends
INT02 Food & Farming
INT01 Food & Tech
In 2012, students at the University of Groningen (Netherlands) became world champions in synthetic biology with a sticker that changes color when meat contains too many bacteria. 170 teams from around the world participated in the annual iGEM competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, which aims to use biotechnology to modify bacteria for a practical purpose.
The sticker-shaped detection system for rotting meat is called Food Warden. The system consists of a film which contains bacteria that let volatile compounds from the meat pass through, while blocking decaying influences from outside. The film contains the bacterium bacillus subtilis , which can locate the spoilage bacterium E. coli . When meat is on the verge of decay, the bacteria will color the pigment in the sticker yellow or blue, so it is easy to see that the meat is rotting. The system works so well that food decay can already be spotted before a human nose could smell anything.
Not only can the sticker already be integrated into the packaging when the product is wrapped, but consumers can also put the stickers on the inside of packaging to monitor if food is still good.
In the video below you can see exactly how the meat sticker works.
According to the Japanese chocolate brand Dars, their chocolate is at its best at a temperature of exactly 22°C/71°F. But who measures the temperature of their chocolate? In order to support their 'high quality meltiness', Dars added a temperature indicator to their chocolate bars. A temperature-measuring sticker changes color from pale violet to deep purple as the temperature approaches 22°. This way, you will know exactly when the chocolate has reached its highest possible melt-in-your-mouthdegree.
Expiry date warning
One of the solutions to our waste problem is to not create any waste in the first place. But what is the biggest reason that, in both our homes and in the food service industry, we throw away food? The 'best before date'. To what extent the expiration date should be a guide in food disposal is another discussion, but it doesn't hurt to know the condition of the food upon preparation. Researchers hope that in the future we will no longer have to follow expiration dates because the packaging itself will be able to indicate when food turns bad. 'Modified atmosphere packaging' (MAP) is being researched at the University of Lancaster. In a protective atmosphere, gases are inserted inside the packaging making food decay slower than in packaging with ordinary air. MAP can prevent decay caused by microorganisms and oxidation, and can help to maintain the crispness and juiciness of meat and vegetables. The most commonly used gases are carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen.
Lead researcher Professor Andrew Mills explains:
'At the moment we throw out far too much food which is environmentally and economically damaging. Modified atmosphere packaging is being increasingly used to contain the growth of organisms which spoil food. However, the costs of the labels currently used with it are substantial. We are aiming to eliminate this cost with new plastics for the packaging industry.'
This technology is also very useful to prevent food poisoning.
In the following video you can see how products are packaged in modified atmosphere packaging.
You know how it goes: you come home tired and the only thing on your mind is an ice-cold beer. Problem is, you just bought the beer at the supermarket so it won’t be cold enough yet. Because you want to enjoy your beverage as soon as possible, you put the beer in the freezer but after ten minutes of doing things around the house you’ve completely forgotten about it. Result: frozen beer. If only a beer could alert you when it’s cold enough to drink. That would be really cool.
With this in mind, Coors beer developed a container that automatically indicates the ideal drinking temperature of its contents. Of course we’ve seen this technique used by other brands as well, but Coors added a nice gimmick: the iconic white mountains in the beer brand’s logo will turn blue as the beer gets colder. As soon as the mountains are bright blue, the beer is ready to drink. And for those of us who like extra cold beer, there is a super cold indicator which will be activated at 5°C/41°F. This technique has already been spotted on soft drinks and water bottles.
Carling beer does the same with their lion logo. Look here:
In 2011, researchers at Jilin University in China produced an edible film of carrot purée which may have great potential for the packaging industry. With a mixture of carrot, carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), cornstarch and gelatin, the researchers have created a cheap and biodegradable film that also happens to taste good. Because carrots consist largely of water and yet still have nutritional value, carrot film could become a great commercial success. 'Obtaining films with good oxygen permeability and desirable mechanical properties would indicate that the carrot could be used as an alternative source of packaging. Carrot films may have the potential to be commercial because they can be used as food or food packaging.'
Of all the types of films, carrot film in particular has a good oxygen barrier which ensures the shelf life of the packaged products: 'Generally, films made from polysaccharides, such as starches, gelatin and cellulose derivatives, are expected to be excellent oxygen barriers because of their tightly packed, ordered hydrogen-bonded network structure and have high tensile strength.'
The researchers mainly see applications for carrot film in the packaging of vegetables, fruits, pastries and nuts. The research was published in the journal Food and Bioproducts Processing.
Those of us who don’t have a team of researchers at their disposal or an understanding of nanotechnology can still put smart packaging into practice. Burger Cafe Bob’s in Brazil may not have a clue about paper-thin membranes to wrap fluids, but they do make a contribution to reduce waste. During a no-waste campaign, their burgers were wrapped in edible material.
The hamburgers were wrapped in a kind of rice paper which could be eaten together with the burger. The customer did not need to unwrap the burger but could immediately take a bite from the packaged product. The main idea behind the campaign was to illustrate the irresistibility of hamburgers but it was also a success in terms of waste: at the end of the campaign there was no more packaging in and around the waste bins at Bob’s. So now you see, even small businesses can contribute to the reduction of waste.
It did lead to a strange sight however as it appeared that all customers had forgotten to remove the paper from their burgers. Watch the video to see how they reacted.
Researchers at Harvard University have developed a new method for packaging foods which would make plastic unnecessary, called WikiCells. According to biochemistry professor David Edwards whose team developed the technique, the new packaging method is similar to an orange peel: you only eat the inside, but the outside is also biodegradable and edible. Fruit comes in its own edible packaging and the researches thought that this should be possible with other products as well. They developed a biodegradable skin that can be wrapped around a product. The skin, which serves as packaging and preservation, is edible itself: it consists of a thin membrane of very small particles held together by electrostatic forces. The recipe for the membrane is secret and dependent on the product being packaged, but the shell can consist of tiny particles of chocolate, fruit, nuts or seeds.
The results are small colored balls which can be wrapped around liquids like a shell. They look similar to jellybeans but about the size of grapes. They are primarily intended for packaging liquids: juice, soup, yogurt and soft drinks have already been tested and there are even edible cocktail cells. The packaging does not dissolve in water, so the foods can be washed before consumption.
David has big plans for his WikiCells: a WikiBar is planned in Paris and expansion into the United States is scheduled for 2013. At the moment the team is still fully occupied with improving the stability of the new packaging. The influence of temperature and shelf life are particularly pressing issues, but the initial results are promising.
Water soluble film
By now there is so much plastic piled up at our garbage dumps that it would be useful if it could dissolve into thin air. This must have been what those at MonoSol packaging have been thinking and in response, they invented a plastic-like wrapper which dissolves upon contact with water. This discovery is particularly useful for products that would come in contact with water upon preparation anyway. Therefore, MonoSol devised packaging for products like oatmeal, tea, hot chocolate instant coffee and soup. Jon Gallagher, MonoSol’s product development manager explains: 'Once there’s water penetration, the molecular bonds loosen up.' The packaging, which looks like plastic, falls apart upon contact with water. Once the packaging has dissolved it completely disappears and is safe for consumption.
The discovery is officially called 'edible film' and is widely applicable. Besides food, it could also be used to package cleaning products. But the technology goes further: the packaging can even have a flavor. What about a marshmallow-flavored wrapping for hot chocolate? Or milk-and-sugarflavored coffee sachets? Chefs could use the packaging for spice mixes to ensure that dishes always contain the same amount of seasoning.
MonoSol mainly offers a solution for single-service packaging which would normally end up in the trash immediately. MonoSol therefore sees further opportunities for military meals, frozen food like lasagna and water purification films.
Watch the video to see how oatmeal is wrapped in MonoSol film.
Cold-activated bottles Expiry date warning Melting chocolate Meat Sticker
Hamburger wrapper WikiCells Water soluble film Carrot film
The most innovative wrapper isn’t a wrapper
Text: Lisanne Mathijssen | Music: Paul Kalkbrenner - Sky and sand
The more we consume, the bigger the pile of waste we leave behind. On top of this, every year we throw away 1.3 billion tons of prepared food worldwide. With each generation, our impact on the environment grows, even though we have various opportunities to tackle our waste problem. In this article we focus on smart packaging which produces no extra waste either because the wrapping simply disappears, or because it can be eaten with the packaged product. Smart and edible packaging: the best examples.