Good Thinking

Next-gen milk carton designed to help reduce food waste

Next-gen milk carton designed ...
Plans call for the carton to incorporate an app-readable QR code and sensor
Plans call for the carton to incorporate an app-readable QR code and sensor
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Plans call for the carton to incorporate an app-readable QR code and sensor
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Plans call for the carton to incorporate an app-readable QR code and sensor

Although many people throw milk away once it reaches its "best before" date, the fact is that the milk will still likely be good for several more days. In order to eliminate such waste, scientists at Cornell University are designing a "smart" carton.

Being developed through the university's Milk Quality Improvement Program, the carton will incorporate both a QR code and a sensor.

The code will contain information such as the originating dairy farm, the processing plant, and microbes specific to that farm and plant, which may be present in the milk. The sensor, on the other hand, will record the time that has elapsed since the milk was put in the carton, along with the temperatures at which the carton has been stored.

Using an app on their smartphone, customers and retailers will scan both the QR code and the sensor, obtaining a precise expiration date for the milk. Not only would this keep consumers from wasting food and money by discarding perfectly-good milk, but it would also allow retailers to move older milk off their shelves by lowering its price accordingly.

"We can apply digital agriculture tools directly onto the milk cartons to decrease food waste, since consumers get rid of milk too fast," says principal investigator, Prof. Martin Wiedmann. "We can accomplish this while improving the sustainability of our food supply."

The project is being funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, the New York State Dairy Promotion Order, and yogurt company Chobani.

And in related news, the University of California-Berkeley has previously developed a carton cap that monitors milk freshness.

Source: Cornell University

10 comments
fb36
IMHO, (especially) USA can immensely reduce milk going waste, by switching to UHT milk (which can be stored in milk carton, w/o refrigerator, for 6 months)!!! (Which many other countries already commonly use!!!)
ChairmanLMAO
does it detect sour milk. if not that just leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
JeremyHinton
Made of biodegradable materials?
alan c
A solution looking for a problem here in the UK; my milk gets drunk before the use by date but sometimes goes sour before that date. And no, I won't drink UHT milk, it's a different product - like American beer and English beer.
Henry NZ
I would recommend a biodegradable milk container that lets the milk out but not the air in, I am sure this would provide a longer shelf / storage life especially once opened for use. Maybe a bit tricky to design the perfect container especially for older people and invalids who may not have a great deal of dexterity and strength in their hands / wrist / arms. Henry NZ
Nik
''Smart'' milk containers are just a fix for people with their brain switched off!. All that is required is something every normal human is born with.... It's called a NOSE! Solution, instead of ''best before,'' print, ''Instructions; 1. Remove milk from fridge, 2. Open milk, 3. Smell milk, 4. If milk does not smell sour, 5. Taste milk, 6. If milk tastes like milk, 7. Drink milk!
undrgrndgirl
i do not need an app to tell me if my milk is drinkable.
Trylon
Agreed that this is technology as a fix for poor thought processes. Forget the sell-by date. Drink it if it's good, toss it if it's sour. Even when slightly sour, a little sugar renders it drinkable. As long as it's not curdled. Plus I get a few more days out of my milk with an old trick. I drop a sterling silver spoon into my milk jug as soon as I open it. Silver ions have antimicrobial properties, retarding spoilage.
mhenriday
I'm not sure about food waste, but that combination paper and plastic carton certainly looks wasteful and environmentally harmful to me.... Henri
KaiserPingo
UHT is sh*t, but ok if you have no idear about real milk or your contry is so primitive, that the propper handling of milk is a problem. Sort your infrastructure and electrical problems !!! This system is a good idea in a civilized society.