Food QR Codes Can Replace Expiration Dates

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022 | 1319 Views

The ‘use-by’ and ‘best-by’ dates printed on milk containers may soon become a thing of the past, giving way to more accurate and informative food QR codes. This is according to a report published by Cornell University in the USA.

The study finds that consumers are more willing to use QR codes to discover if a carton of milk is still safe for drinking, and so create substantially less agricultural and food waste.

Samantha Lau, a doctoral student in food science in Food Safety in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, worked with Cornell’s Milk Quality Improvement Program, connected with the Cornell Dairy Bar, which sells fluid milk in addition to ice cream on campus. She wanted to assess consumer acceptance for food QR code technology that could one day replace the static ‘best-by’ or ‘sell-by’ dates commonly found on food products.

Customers had a choice: purchasing milk with printed best-by dates or buying containers with food QR codes, which, when scanned by a smartphone, would display the best-before date. Also, she placed a dynamic pricing element where consumers were encouraged to purchase milk with a shorter remaining shelf life by offering a price discount as the date approached.

“During a two-month study, over 60% of customers purchased the milk with the QR code, showing a considerable interest in using this new technology,” Lau said. “This revealed that the use of QR codes on food products can be an innovative way to address the larger issue of food waste.” Fluid milk is responsible for about 65% of dairy product food waste, costing the US industry and consumers nearly $6.4 billion annually, according to the paper.

Adapted from Thumbs up for QR codes on dairy and pharmaceutical products to cut waste.