Cold-Chain Sticker May Prevent Food Poisoning by Warning of Improper Refrigeration
A new sticker, called the cold-chain safety sticker, has been created to prevent food poisoning. Frozen and refrigerated foods can result in food poisoning if they have been exposed to warm temperatures which allow microorganisms to grow. And because of these microorganisms cannot be killed with heat or by an alternate method of sanitization, the food is thereby rendered inedible. A research company in Korea has created a cold-chain safety sticker that would indicate if food has been subjected to impermissibly low temperatures. At temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the sticker is a grey color. When the cold-chain safety sticker is exposed to temperatures 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above, the sticker begins developing an image of the brand’s name “KRICT: Korean Research Institute of Chemical Technology.” The image becomes more distinct the longer the sticker is exposed to a temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above, and the image cannot be reversed or changed. In fact, the sticker can be set for various periods of time, ranging from a minimum of 30 minutes to a maximum a 24 hours. Various foods begin to spoil at differing durations of time; for example, raw meat and poultry begin to spoil after two hours with inadequate refrigeration, while mushrooms can last as long as one day without refrigeration.
When frozen or refrigerated foods are exposed to warm temperatures, food borne illness causing bacteria begins to form and thrive. Some of these bacteria are heat resistant; thus, they will not be killed when cooked, even at high temperatures. The USDA defines the “Danger Zone” as the range of temperatures during which bacteria is most likely to grow. The “Danger Zone” is from 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit, with the amount of bacteria growing exponentially during this time. The most common types of bacteria that inhibit food which has been subjected to improper temperatures are Staphylococcus aureos, commonly known as staph, and Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism. These infections typically present as common food poisoning symptoms, such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. Though the sticker is still in testing stages with KRICT, the future use of the cold-chain safety stickers by food agencies could maintain food safety standards while also preventing food poisoning outbreaks.