New label spells end for out-of-date food risk


By Kirsty Topping


The pot indicates when food should be thrown away

A SCOTS inventor has developed a new labeling system which shows when food is unsafe to eat.

It’s hoped that the new technology, dubbed the UWI label, could help reduce the amount of wasted food, as well as help consumers save money and preventing them falling ill.

Pete Higgins came up with the idea after he almost served out-of-date mayonnaise to his young son and has spent the last 18 months developing it with scientists from Heriot-Watt University.

The label reacts as a soon as a food jar or packaging is opened then gives a clear and simple visual warning when the product is no longer safe to consume.

It is triggered as soon as packaging is opened and will then begin a countdown to show exactly when a product expires – with a display showing green while the product is safe to use or consume – replaced by a red warning.

Pete said:

“Everyone who sees the UWI Label instantly understands it and asks why something like this doesn’t already exist. “

By providing consumers with a foolproof method of checking

“use within’ dates, Pete says the system offers more than just convenience.

He added:

“Across the world there is growing recognition that waste is a problem which must be tackled urgently – and food waste is a huge part of that.

“With the UWI Label we are not only giving consumers a foolproof way to ensure food is safe to eat, we are giving them a simple and reliable way to manage their food better to reduce waste.

“In the UK alone it is estimated we waste 11bn worth of food ever year. As well as the cost to the environment, that costs every family in the country 680. The UWI Label could help dramatically reduce that. “

The product has also caught the eye of judges at business award, the Take One Small Step competition, who have shortlisted it alongside two other finalists for a 50,000 prize.

Pete hopes the public will vote for him in the X Factor style vote and plans to use the money to get the invention onto supermarket shelves.

“The reality is that it takes a substantial amount of money to get something like this off the drawing board and into mass production,’ he said.

“I have had to make some serious financial sacrifices, including the sale of my cherished camper van and with the support of Heriot Watt University, we are tantalisingly close to our dream of seeing it on supermarket shelves.

“I’m now looking for support from the Scottish public to help UWI Label win this prize, because it could be the final element in ensuring an entirely Scottish invention gets on to the global stage. “

The technology could also have uses outside the kitchen and could be used on a number of products with a set shelf life once opened – including industrial glues and sealants, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, blood transfusion services and veterinary.

The label can also be used on bottles or containers of high value alcohol and spirits in order to prevent counterfeiting.

More information about the Barclay’s Take One Small Step award and how to vote for the UWI Label can be found on the website