Michael Rooney, from Food Science Australia, told delegates at a CSIRO food forum yesterday (11 October) that the next innovation within packaging would be a warning signal that will alert the consumer as to whether the food is out of date. CSIRO is currently forging links with retailers, food producers and packagers, with the aim of developing intelligent packaging for food bought over the Internet, and the comments by Rooney, a specialist on packaging materials, were well received.According to scientists at the institute, the challenge they are facing is ensuring the quality of food products bought online, to guarantee the safety standards of their unseen purchase which bypasses the traditional food cooling supply chain. Rooney believes the new warning technology, chemical or electronic, could be the answer. He explained: "Electronic chips can offer an audible warning while sensitive strips would change colour if perishable foods became contaminated."The technology would also be useful for food exporters who wish to guarantee the freshness of their product, and scientists now believe that launch of the food microchip is only a few years away.