food-safety barcode developed
Source of Article: http://www.meatpoultry.com/news/weekly_enews.asp?ArticleID=100692&e=INSERT_EMAIL
(MEATPOULTRY.com, March 10, 2009)
by Bryan Salvage
KINGSTON, R.I. —
Barcodes created by SIRA Technologies for refrigerated food product use will
incorporate an ink that is practically invisible. When conditions indicative
of contamination exist, the ink will turn red and the barcode will be
rendered incapable of transmitting data when scanned, according to
researchers at the University of Rhode Island.
"We’ve all heard about people who have been sickened by contaminated
food in recent years," said Brett Lucht, who, with U.R.I. colleague
William Euler, developed the polymer that is added to the barcode ink to make
it change color. "Our partnership with SIRA Technologies is creating a
smart packaging system that will prevent thousands of people from getting
The U.R.I. researchers began studying thermochromic pigments a decade ago
when a cookware company sought a polymer that could be added to its products
to make them change color when they were too hot to touch.
The heat-sensitive material they developed turned from red to yellow at 180°
F and back to red when it cooled. Although the polymer generated interest
from more than 100 companies that sought to incorporate it into dozens of
different materials, none were willing to incur the added costs of refining
the polymer for their specific uses.
But when Mr. Lucht and Mr. Euler modified their discovery into an
irreversible polymer —one that does not revert to its original color after
changing — SIRA Technologies took notice.
SIRA had developed a barcode that could sequester pathogens from animal blood
and quantify the colony of pathogens with colored organic beads until the color
emerges to activate the barcode and report the contamination, said Bob
Goldsmith, chief executive officer of the company. However, constant
pathogenic mutations made it impossible to keep current with marketplace
needs. The company’s subsequent search for an irreversible thermochromic ink
led them to partner with U.R.I. in what is now trademarked and patented as
The Food Sentinel System.
The cost of the SIRA Technologies barcode with the URI polymer will be less
than four cents each.
"The licensing agreement we have in place with SIRA has the potential of
generating hundreds of thousands of dollars — or more — in revenues to the
university," Mr. Lucht said. "If even 10% of the packages of
chicken and milk and beef sold around the world have the SIRA barcode on
them, that would give a big boost to the U.R.I. research program. Only time