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Laser ‘label’ a-peel

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Laser ‘label’ a-peel

July 23
11:04 2013

Some fruit labels are edible, others dissolve in water, but most are stuck on – and peeled off – by hand and thrown in the bin. Now Spanish company Laser Food has come up with a radically different method of identifying bananas, oranges, kiwis and lemons; in fact any fruit which has to be peeled prior to consumption: laser-cut labels with logos.

The EU has recently passed legislation allowing labels to be applied directly onto produce using lasers. The Laser Food machines work like laser cutters, marking the fruit without damaging it. They can print clearly enough for barcode scanners, and they allow for branding with individual logos. Currently these machines can mark up to 54,000 pieces of fruit in an hour, according to the company.

Initial objections from the EU to using laser technology were due to the chemicals that make the laser look clearer: iron oxides, hydroxides, hydroxypropyl, methyl cellulose and polysorbates. However, as the laser only penetrates the surface of the skin of produce which must be peeled, the chemicals do not pose a threat to human health.

In the US this technology was also initially rejected, based on concerns that it could make the fruit susceptible to pathogens, and increase the pace of decay. However, University of Florida researchers proved that these claims were unsubstantiated.

Also called the fruit tattoo, the laser ‘label’ is being heralded as the ultimate sustainable packaging – no material, no adhesive and very little energy, so minimal, if not zero, waste – and very user friendly for the consumer. Perhaps the only drawback is the fact there are no colours, but the decorative possibilities are exciting!

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