Food Quality Sensor International, Inc. (FQSI) has developed a revolutionary new smart label which can sense when fresh meat and poultry has gone off.

The "freshQ" label, which can be applied by the meat packer, distributor or retailer to the outside of wrapped meat and poultry, can detect food-borne bacteriological levels through the packaging, turning from orange to grey to indicate spoilage.

FQSI, which is backed by Navigator Technology Ventures (NTV) of Cambridge, Massachusetts, plans to launch the new label in the first quarter of 2006. FQSI is test-marketing the label with Unified Western Grocers, a Californian retailer, and Premium Protein Products, a Nebraska-based meat producer.

"For the first time, packers, grocers, and consumers will have graphic evidence of the product's freshness at each step in the distribution system," said FQSI's president and CEO Marco Bonné. "The food industry can now extend its quality control programmes directly into home refrigerators to let consumers know when it is no longer safe to eat these products."