Foods are prone to quality degradation in the whole supply chain, but the possibilities for monitoring the quality of foods inside the package are limited. When sensors of quality indicators are included into the package of a food, the package can become an intelligent packaging that is able to communicate information about the packed food. An intelligent packaging could be used to monitor quality attributes of the food and translate this into a message about the quality of the packed food that is communicated to all actors in the supply chain. Knowledge of the quality status of the food could lead to improvements in quality based logistic decision making in the food chain and reduce food waste. In this thesis the possibilities and pitfalls to use intelligent packaging to monitor the quality of foods were explored.
Aim of this thesis
The objective of this thesis was to study and develop an intelligent packaging concept that can monitor and predict food quality within the supply chain. Intelligent packaging systems, based on a direct or indirect quality monitoring sensor and combined with mathematical models, were evaluated on their abilities to predict the quality of the packed perishable foods under different conditions that can occur in the supply chain. The development of new non-destructive methods for monitoring changes in the freshness status of packed fresh fish was chosen as a case study for the proof of principle of the application of intelligent packaging for monitoring food quality.
First, a literature study was performed on the possibilities for intelligent packaging for monitoring the quality of foods (chapter 2). One of the conclusions was that foods that benefit the most from intelligent packaging are expensive, highly perishable foods. Foods with a known or low variation in initial quality can benefit from sensors that monitor the environmental conditions surrounding the food that influence the quality of the packed foods. Foods with an unknown or high variation in the initial quality need sensors that directly monitor a quality attribute of the food itself.
The initial quality of fresh fish is highly variable and therefore fresh cod fillets require sensors monitoring compounds correlated with the quality of the fish. Therefore, fresh cod was chosen as case example for the development of a quality sensor for intelligent packaging. The content of total volatile basic nitrogen (TVB-N) compounds were identified as possible quality indicator compounds to predict the freshness of fish, the most important quality attribute of fresh fish.