Timetemperature Integrators

Since time elapsed since freezing is an imperfect indicator of product quality, a device that will indicate the integrated effects of time and temperature (a T-TI) is obviously to be preferred and forms part of intelligent or active packaging

(9). The deteriorative changes (quality loss) in frozen foods are complex, but the reaction kinetics can be simplified into either pseudo-zero-order or pseudo-first-order kinetics

(10). A large number of T-TIs have been patented; these have been reviewed by Taoukis (11). Only three seem to be currently available; the 3M Monitor Mark (which relies on the travel of a colored ink along a wick), the Life Lines T-TI (which relies on a progressive color change in a polymer] and the VITSAB T-TI (which relies on a color change from green to yellow mediated by an enzyme). Life Lines is used on frozen turkey rolls in the United States (10) and also, since 1991, on some 100 chilled products by the supermarket chain Monoprix in France (12). Several studies have shown a close correlation between the quality loss in various frozen and chilled foods and the response of T-TIs (13,14), and an industry specification for evaluating T-TIs for use in food has been elaborated (15). A British standard (16) sets out performance specification and reference testing for T-TIs. The biggest obstacle to the wider use of these inexpensive devices, which present quality assurance to the consumer, is probably the mandatory requirement for open dating in most countries and the resulting confusion that would arise between this almost totally meaningless and potentially misleading date and the far more useful reading of the T-TI.

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