Chemistry professor designs foil packaging with colour changing display

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Katja Heinze
Katja Heinze
Katja Heinze, a chemistry professor from Mainz University, Germany, and her Luxembourg cooperation partner Dr. Patrick Choquet have received €35,000 from the Interregional Research Award for intelligent food packaging with a freshness indicator.

The three-year project called Surfamine (surface/amines) saw the pair develop a foil food packaging that would interact with the atmosphere within the package and display information about its composition by colorimetric signals, changing color from green to red, for example.

Food scandals


Dr. Heinze, of the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) told FoodProductionDaily the idea for the design came after a number of food scandals within the industry which led to an increase in monitoring food freshness and food safety.

We started the project over three years ago, which is not unusual for a collaboration of this kind​,” she said.

The teams designed, synthesized, and employed novel dyes that are used to give the foils their color. These colors change on interaction with amines that are released when the packaged foodstuffs undergo bacterial decomposition.

We are now planning to work again on a similar topic. The foil packaging that changes colour is not available to buy just yet as it is not yet patented but we are in consultation with CRM Group in Liège, Belgium, who is interested in commercialising it​,” added Heinze.

The foil packaging is only suitable for food which contains protein, such as fish and cheese. We are currently discussing the name for our next project, and starting to write it down and apply for more funding​.”

Interregional Research Award

The Interregional Research Award is given to research networks that have at least a bilateral and multilateral cross-border orientation in the Greater Region where France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Germany meet.

The project must be of cross-border interest in the Greater Region and the award is intended to pay tribute to new projects that strengthen public awareness and the attractiveness of the Greater Region.

In addition to Dr. Choquet, from the Centre de Recherche Public in Belvaux, Luxembourg, Heinze worked with the Department of Research and Material Analysis and the Department of Environmental and Agrarian Sciences of the Centre de Recherche Public - Gabriel Lippmann in Belvaux, Luxembourg, the Novelis Foil Innovation Center, also in Belvaux, and the ArcelorMittal Plasma Research Group in Liège in Belgium.

The teams have also developed an environmentally-friendly coating process where even large surfaces can be covered with the intelligent materials, financed by Luxembourg Fonds National de la Recherche.

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