Time Temperature Indicators TTIs

Research into several different time-temperature indicators that integrate this exposure and reflect the cumulative history of such stress has been undertaken. One promising indicator label made by I-Point Technologies is based on the enzymatic decomposition of fats, which produces an acid and causes a color change in the label from green to yellow to red. Another promising indicator made by LifeLines Technologies contains, in addition to the bar code, a patch with a substituted diacetylene monomer that is initially white and eventually becomes bluish and purplish as it polymerizes. Both can be made with different formulations to alter the sensitivity to temperature. The LifeLines TTI can be scanned with an optical reader to obtain product information and the percent reflectance of light from the patch. In studies of products with such labels and exposed purposely to different temperatures, data have been obtained indicating that the change in color reflectance correlates with changes in product quality. From such correlations, a scale can be developed from which an individual responsible for managing stock rotation could determine, from the percent reflectance of the patch, the time remaining at a given temperature before the shelf life limit is reached.

The suitability of such labels for stock management ultimately depends on how well the label temperature sensitivity matches the product's temperature sensitivity. If the label is more sensitive, it will overstate the loss in quality; conversely, if it is less sensitive, it will understate the loss. Moreover, the particular quality attribute in a product that most affects acceptance must be identified and the temperature sensitivity of this attribute should serve as the basis for selecting a TTI label. Current research indicates that sufficient flexibility exists in adjusting label temperature sensitivity to achieve the desired match.

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