If you’ve ever given your slightly-past-its-expiration-date milk container the side-eye and wondered if pouring some into your cereal will be a deadly decision, welcome to our life. Often these dates are confusing to consumers, because a “sell by” date is different from an “expiration” date, and sometimes these dates are more about quality than safety, says the National Resource Defense Council. If you eat something past it’s “best by” date, you may not find it as delicious and choose not to buy it again.
Roughly $165 billion worth of edible food gets tossed each year, the NRDC estimates. If one company has its way, that waste could be a thing of the past. It started as an Indiegogo project last year, the Foodsniffer is an “electronic nose” that users place in the proximity of food they want to test. Temperature, humidity, ammonia, and other organic compound sensors gather data from the air to tell if the beef, pork, poultry, or fish has spoiled. Via Bluetooth, the device sends the data to your smartphone or tablet (iOS or Android), so you don’t have to rely on visual or scent clues to tell if the meat is bad.
“Having suffered through the horrible experience of food poisoning myself, I decided to create a device that would help families quickly and easily check the freshness and quality of food,” creator Augustas Alesiunas tells the Daily Mail.
Because food waste is such a big problem, others are creating similar devices. MIT researchers recently modified an RFID tag to detect a chemical present when food decays, and recent winner of the UK James Dyson Award, the Bump Mark, is a label designed to decompose along with food. Neither of these are available yet, but the Foodsniffer is launching in March, and you can preorder one for $120.
If it works as advertised, the Foodsniffer will hopefully diminish some food waste and save people from some bouts of food poisoning. Unfortunately, it won’t do much for our morning milk conundrum.