Innovative Scanner Can Tell You How Long Your Fruit and Vegetables Will Stay Fresh

Infrared scanner predicts how long produce can be used and helps reduce food waste.

Feb 22, 2024
Innovative Scanner Can Tell You How Long Your Fruit and Vegetables Will Stay Fresh | Infrared scanner predicts how long produce can be used and helps reduce food waste.

There is an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available in local markets. But while those red juicy strawberries look fresh, consumers have no way of knowing how long the fruit can be stored at home. The same goes for distribution centers and supermarkets.

Now, the food technology startup OneThird, located in the Netherlands, is looking to change that with an infrared scanner that can accurately predict how long fresh fruits and vegetables will last. The startup is aptly named because one-third of food is wasted due to spoilage every year, reported Fast Company.

AI powered scanner can replace visual inspections
The startup’s founders were inspired by a UK company that uses this type of technology in the medical field and decided to see if it was applicable for food. “I dove in and looked at the challenges in the food-supply chain, which is kind of broken,” founder and CEO of OneThird, Marco Snikkers told Fast Company.

“We said, well, if we’re going to use this technology for something, how can we use this to prevent food waste? We started to talk to people in the industry and found out that 40 percent of food waste is fresh produce. One of the biggest causes of waste is that nobody knows shelf-life.”

Quality inspections at farms and distribution centers are done manually. An inspector checks the fruits and vegetables and makes notes about the size and quality. Then the food is sent to consumers without considering travel time or how long the produce will remain usable.

Using  the infrared scanner at the distribution center means that inspectors can use the information to approve shipments that will ensure the produce can be distributed on a timely basis. That means that a shipment of ripe tomatoes will not be sent long distances away.

OneThird’s scanner combines the technology of optical scanners, image modeling, and Artificial Intelligence to provide accurate shelf-life predictions reported Food Business News.

Solving food waste
The startup found that the technology can reduce up to 25 percent produce waste that was caused by spoilage. “Global food waste has an enormous environmental impact; reducing global food waste can help to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and embolden global food security,” Snikkers told Food Business news.

“One-third of global food produced annually is lost or wasted, which is an astronomical volume given the number of people worldwide who go to bed hungry, he said. “Global food waste is both inefficient and a major social justice issue — one that is compounded across multiple touchpoints in the supply chain — from agricultural production all the way to the landfill.”

But the startup is not alone in trying to prevent food waste. According to a newsletter from The University of Maine, food waste is a very complex issue. That’s because food waste comes from a myriad of places including food that was prepared but not eaten, spoiled food from farm to table, or foods that are not considered edible for people like rinds and peels.

One of the solutions is to use food waste tracking technology, like OneThird’s scanner, to use a web-based system that will match available food to food needs, and to encourage consumer education against food waste.

If farms and companies become part of the solution, this will cut food waste and help the environment at the same time. Less food in landfills means lower greenhouse emissions and knowing when food will spoil will enable stores to donate produce close to expiration to people with food insecurity.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.