Laser-etched fruit labels may be seen on US supermarket shelves in coming months, say those behind the technique's creation. Using a carbon dioxide laser, they've produced permanently-visible labels, etched into the skins of citrus fruit.
The laser only penetrates a tiny way into the skin, so causes no damage whatsoever to the fruit itself. Significantly, these labels produce a permanent reminder of the fruit's origin, highlighting and verifying the start of the product's supply chain so consumers can see exactly where it's come from.
The arrival of the Natural Light Labeling technique won't be the first time this type of system's been used to label fruit in the US. Previously, though, it was pulled over fears that it could produce prematurely-decayed fruit.
Natural Light Labeling
Now, the University of Florida has demonstrated that Natural Light Labeling neither boosts water loss nor encourages in pathogens.
‘The UF researchers looked at whether Salmonella bacteria could more easily contaminate the peel of oranges after laser etching and found that it could not', the university confirmed in a recent press release. ‘They also found no Salmonella present in juice taken from healthy, etched oranges.'
Consequently, the technique has recently been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. All that's now needed is an uninterrupted consultation period and final documentation and the system can, in theory, go into full production.
Laser-Etched Fruit Labelling
Although since licensed by Sunkist, this laser-etched fruit labelling technique was the brainchild of Greg Drouillard. "Other than leafy greens and corn on the cob, it works with any fruit or vegetable", he told the FoodProductionDaily.com website."It is more secure and the cycle of the fruit can be followed through item level traceability. It offers an alternative to adhesive labels and I believe there is room for both in the market."
He added: "It has undergone a lot of testing to prove it doesn't harm fruit or human health and once we get the final document from FDA, then we will go all out through Sunkist to bring this to market."