Tracing the frozen food supply chain Amazing microcrystals that change colour can be used to indicate the freshness of edible products. This will help consumers choose the freshest meat and fish at the supermarket and dramatically reduce incidences of food poisoning. Health © Shutterstock While the local food movement is gaining momentum, meat and especially fish still frequently travel considerable distances from where they're produced to where they're consumed. Ensuring freshness is therefore critical to the success of such an industry. The challenge is that the supply chain is composed of several different market players, each of which may fail to maintain the necessary cold conditions. This can negatively impact product quality and even result in the product going bad before its expiration date. The 'Integrated approach to enable traceability of the cooling chain of fresh and frozen meat and fish products by means of Taylor-made time/ temperature indicators' (Freshlabel) brought together small research-oriented companies to examine the potential of time-temperature indicators (TTIs) in order to address this issue. Chilled and frozen meat and fish products need to be stored at temperatures at or just above freezing, but this can vary depending on the type of meat or fish. In order to overcome this difficulty, the EU-funded project developed a TTI that can be customised to the specific product it's tracing. In fact, special microcrystals were developed that change colour according to the temperature conditions. A scale ranging from dark blue, indicating maximum freshness, to white, indicating expiration, was designed so that any label-printing company could easily reproduce it. the Freshlabel technology will make product quality much more transparent for consumers and thus provide European meat and fish producers an advantage in the global market.