Italian researchers patent 'Smart Label' for perishable products

It can be used in the management of the cold chain or the handling of biological samples

Italian research centre ENEA has patented a wireless temperature indicator to monitor the state of preservation of perishable products, including food. The temperature indicator, inserted in the label, does not require batteries or sensors. It is designed to indicate whether a product has exceeded a pre-established temperature threshold with a simple 'yes or no' answer, and store the data.

The hi-tech thermometer works with high-frequency RFID technology and does not compromise the transfer of information between the product label and a conventional reader.

Such system can be used in the management of the cold chain, the handling of biological samples, and in all cases where it is necessary to detect whether a product has exceeded storage temperature.

The patented system is characterised by low production cost and low circuit complexity, making the manufacturing process very efficient, according to ENEA.

Unlike other passive tag devices, it can detect a thermal event even when it is not close to a reader and store information about an unexpected temperature peak if and when it occurs. According to ENEA researcher Riccardo Miscioscia, the challenge now "is to integrate one or more sensors into RFID tags to ensure that the properties of the traced object have not been altered voluntarily or involuntarily by external causes".

The system was developed at ENEA's facility in Portici, Naples.

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