TOXDTECT was an EU project for SMEs
SUMMARY OF THE TOXDTECT PROJECT
Meat is a fragile product and its quality may be affected by any mistakes in its processing, packaging, distribution or at the point of sale. Failure to detect a pathogen will influence consumers’ perception of the product, thereby having a negative impact on the meat industry.
In addition, lack of understanding of traditional food labels has created confusion in the minds of consumers, who prefer to rely more on the appearance of the product and ignore the expiry date. This has contributed to the generation of large amounts of food waste, unnecessary consumption of resources and the emission of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
An intelligent packaging system for determining the quality of fresh beef meat and for predicting shelf life was developed by the project TOXDTECT. The technology is based on the identification of specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are produced inside the packaging during the growth of microorganisms.
These compounds are detected by VOC-sensitive sensors embedded within the film packaging while an external reader records an electric signal and correlates it with the state and properties of the meat. This information is then used to determine the remaining shelf life of the product according to existing food safety regulations. Although the initiative focused on beef in order to restore customer confidence in Europe’s beef industry, it could also be applied to poultry and other meat products.
TOXDTECT technology provides consumers with a clear labelling system so they will no longer confuse ‘best before’ and ‘consume by’ dates, since the information they receive is provided in real time from the product they are purchasing.
The information also informs consumers about the freshness of the packaged meat, since the signal from the sensors is affected by any changes in the supply chain. The project will thus help improve public health, support the European meat industry, reduce food waste and contribute to sustainable food production.