Scientists at the Agricultural University of Norway (NLH) say they have developed a ‘smart label’ that can display an exact shelf life for food and other perishables, including medicines.

The label uses a chemical reaction to time and temperature and displays a running grade of edibility. The NLH researchers have applied for a global patent, newspaper Østlendingen reports.

The label can be produced cheaply and will be an integral part of the packaging to prevent possible tampering. The inventors claim that there is no problem adapting the label to different types of foods.

The label will also provide an immediate indicator of the food’s storage temperature.

The innovation will not only provide consumers with more reliable information, it should play a large role in reducing waste. Experts believe much of the 600,000 tons of food destroyed annually due to expiry date in Norway is fully edible.