Cornell receives FFAR grant to predict food’s shelf life

May 2, 2019

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) has awarded a $590,000 Seeding Solutions Grant to Cornell University to develop technology that provides consumers with a more accurate shelf life predication for perishable products. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from the Department of Food Science at Cornell University, New York State Dairy Promotion Order, and Chobani for a total $1.56 million investment.

The “best by” labels on perishable products indicate when the food is at peak quality. However, many consumers mistakenly interpret these labels as an expiration date and discard food on or before that date without realizing that the product is safe for consumption.

Cornell’s researchers will develop models that predict milk spoilage and shelf life as well as the effectiveness of interventions that predict when food spoils and how to prevent consumers from disposing of items that are still safe. The project will initially focus on milk, applying the results to other perishable food and beverages. Ultimately, the research team aims to develop a way for consumers to scan a QR code linked to a time/temperature indicator on a food product, providing a precise estimate of the item’s remaining shelf life.

“To sustainably feed a growing population, it is imperative that we advance technology to accurately predict food spoilage,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “This research will bring us closer to predicting the expiration of perishable food, which is essential for reducing avoidable food waste while ensuring nutritious food is safely consumed.”

“This project represents an exciting application of digital agriculture tools to reduce food waste and further improve the sustainability of our food supply,” said Martin Wiedmann, professor of food science at Cornell University and the principal investigator of this project.

Press release