Smartphone app monitors food expiration dates

Researchers at Wolverhampton University have developed a new smartphone application that helps households reduce the amount of food they waste.

The ’Consume Within’ app is able to track the expiration dates of shop-bought and home-made items.

The Apple iPhone application was developed by Unibyte, a spin-out company from the Caparo Innovation Centre (CIC), a partnership between the university and the Caparo group of companies, based at Wolverhampton Science Park.

Using the app, food items can be allocated quickly and easily to three different locations – fridge, freezer or cupboard – and their expiration dates set individually. The user can choose a photo to go with the item, as well as a special barcode-type sticker if they wish, to make the item easy to identify at a later date. The app then alerts users of the foods that are about to expire within the next three days and displays them by location or as a single list.

The special stickers can be obtained from the Consume Within website, where there is also a free downloadable sample sheet to try them out.

Consume Within is suitable for monitoring the best-before dates for all food items, from fruit and vegetables through to meat, dairy, cans and jars. It can also be used to track a number of other items such as toiletries, cosmetics, sun lotions and medications.

Andrew Pollard, industrial professor at the CIC, said: ’Reducing food waste is a major issue, it costs the average family £830 per year and has serious environmental implications too – in the UK, 8.3 million tonnes of food is thrown away by households each year.’

The application is available now to download from Apple iTunes. The Lite version is free and allows users to monitor up to four items at a time, while the full version can monitor an unlimited number of items.