Time is ripe for time/temp labels

Time is ripe for time/temp labels

REFRIGERATED PRODUCTS have two archenemies: time and temperature. Color-changing time/temperature indicator labels were introduced more than a decade ago to help monitor product exposure to long storage and out-ot-range temperatures. The technology has been honed since then and commercial application is growing both in Europe and the U.S.

Lifelines Technology Inc., Morris Plains, N.J., can custom produce its Fresh-Check adhesive-backed time/temp indicators (TIs) to suit the needs of particular perishable products including a full range of refrigerated dairy products. Each label incorporates a bull’s eye design with an outer color-reference ring. As long as the bull’s eye center is not darker in color than the outer ring, the consumer is assured the product is fresh. Cumulative effects of time and elevated temperatures cause the bull’s eye to darken. The higher the temperature, the faster the color will darken. Once the color change occurs, it is irreversible.

In France, the Monoprix food store chain has been using Fresh-Check labels since 1991. In Spain, Continente stores have been using them with positive results as has Sainsbury’s Supermarket chain stores in England.

In the U.S., Lifelines consumer research indicates that 96 percent of shoppers would like to buy products with TTI labels. Trader Joe’s Supermarkets, Outback Steakhouse and the Marriott Corp. are all using TTIs in this country.

While the labels are said to be ideal for refrigerated products, the U.S. Army also has found them helpful for monitoring Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MRE) rations. MREs have a shelf life of up to three years at 80 F, so application of TTIs to these products underscores the longevity of the labels’ monitoring capability.

As Lifelines president and co-founder Stephen Fields notes: “The application of TTI labels will increase the probability that products will be handled properly by manufacturers, distributors, truckers and consumers.”

Copyright Stagnito Publishing Apr 1998

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