Edible QR codes embedded in cookies

OSAKA, Japan – There is currently a race to develop edible labels for food so that, for example, you can see where the food or its ingredients come from, and the information disappears once you have it. eat.

Japanese researchers have devised a way to include an inconspicuous edible tag embedded inside food – in their original experiments, cookies – that can be read without having to destroy the food first. Another major advantage of their method, known as “interiqr”, is that the label does not alter the outward appearance or taste of the food.

Labels containing data are commonly used in the food industry. They range from the most basic, like fruit stickers, to the most technological, like radio frequency identification tags that use electromagnetic fields for automatic product identification and tracking. However, as the world tries to reduce extra packaging, the race is on to develop edible food labels that are non-toxic, do not change the flavor or appearance of food, and can be read without having to destroy the food itself. themselves. The Osaka University research team wanted to address all of these questions.

“Many foods can now be produced using 3D printers,” said Yamato Miyatake, lead author of the study. “We realized that the inside of edible objects such as cookies could be printed to contain patterns of empty spaces so that when you turn on a light behind the cookie, a QR code becomes visible and can be read on the inside. using a cell phone.”

In this way, a QR code composed of the cookie itself is used as a label, thus solving all taste and flavor problems. Even better, since all the information is contained inside the food, the outer appearance of the cookie is completely unchanged. And because a simple backlight can be used to make the QR code visible, the information is easily accessible to producers, retailers and consumers at any stage of the cookie’s journey from factory to stomach.

“Our 3D printing method is a prime example of digital food processing, which we hope will improve food traceability and safety,” said lead author Kosuke Sato. “This technology can also be used to deliver new food experiences through augmented reality, which is an exciting new area in the food industry.”

Since food labels and packaging are a big source of waste around the world, this new method of incorporating edible information into food will also be important for waste reduction. It is hoped that the widespread adoption of these technologies will pave the way for a cleaner, more cookie-filled future.

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