London: Bread, fruit juice and many other foods are packaged in protective gas which extends their shelf life. But there is currently no good method to check whether the packaging has the correct gas content.
Researchers have now developed a new laser instrument which could solve the problem. The first product is expected to be ready for market launch later this autumn.
"It will be the first non-destructive method. This means that measurements can be taken in closed packaging and the gas composition over time can be checked," says Märta Lewander, physicist at Lund University in Sweden.
Lewander developed the technique in her thesis and now works as chief technical officer for the company Gasporox, which is commercializing the technology.
Today, spot checks are performed on individual samples, with the risk that damaged products could slip through, according to a statement from the university.
"We hope that, in the long term, this type of equipment could also help to stop people throwing so much food away, because they would know that it is packaged as it should be," she says.
The new laser instrument could be used to check and improve how airtight packaging is.
"It has been shown that part-baked bread, for example, doesn`t always meet the mark," says Annika Olsson, professor of packaging logistics at the university.
"Almost all materials allow at least some light to pass. Even packaging that contains aluminium foil, for example, some fruit juice cartons, often have some part that is not covered by the foil," says Lewander.