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Developing novel intelligent labels for chilled and frozen food products, promoting the influence of smart labels application on waste reduction, food quality and safety in the European supply chains

Final Report Summary - IQ-FRESHLABEL (Developing novel intelligent labels for chilled and frozen food products, promoting the influence of smart labels application on waste reduction, food quality and safety in the European supply chains)

Executive Summary:
The three and a half years of the IQ-Freshlabel project, started in August 2010, were very successful in term of progress made in different research areas related to the developing novel intelligent labels for chilled and frozen food products and the promotion of the influence of smart labels application on waste reduction, food quality and safety in the European supply chains.
A huge diversity in the residual oxygen levels in MAP packaging was revealed across different production countries. This finding lead to an investigation of the different gas composition deployed in MAP packaging, as well as to a comparative study on the impact of the different gas mixes performed with chicken breast and a study on the effects of MAP packaging leakage simulated by comparable penetration. Additionally, the investigation of the spoilage process - as function of different oxygen atmospheres, as function of temperature and using different foils enabled to develop a meat spoilage predictor. In order to develop a low-cost, tuneable and machine-readable oxygen sensor, selected food colorant were investigated regarding their fluorescence and phosphorescence emission in order to establish a detection window for prototype with sufficient signal sensitivity against noise ratio and feasibility for electronic measurements. A quantitative oxygen detection system, using a novel sensitive molecule with a ‘fluorescence site’ and an ‘oxidation site’, showing no straight forward chemical reaction with oxygen was developed. The label only reacts if oxygen is present and light is being irradiated simultaneously at a near UV wavelength at which the molecule absorbs. In addition, the emerging technology of the aluminium TTIs was integrated in the research work, mathematically modelled and validated in a pilot study. Finally concepts to integrate the smart labels in different food chains were developed.
Photochromic and enzymatic prototype CTTI systems were developed and characterized together with the technology providing SMEs, showing huge application potential and desirable performance at elevated temperatures of -15°C, -12°C, -10°C, -8°C and -5°C as well as at 0°C and 5°C which are typical for frozen food chain rupture and abuse. In parallel to the CTTI studies, the definition of quality indices for frozen fish products and respective storage studies were performed to match the functionality found in the CTTI performance. The basic equations for the degradation of quality indices and the temperature dependence of quality functions were specified and models towards quality deterioration for variable temperature distribution as well as the response functions using the effective temperature were developed and integrated into a full scheme and model to be deployed during a laboratory validation phase as well as a pilot trial. CTTIs were optimized and validated in the cold chain with real conditions and products on a Greek chain and an export chain from Greece to Germany.

An explorative study with in-depth interviews with stakeholders throughout the different identified target groups (retailers, manufacturers) was performed in France, Germany, Finland and Greece; thus, giving a view of relevant stakeholders’ opinion in both cold and warm European countries. An online cost benefit tool was developed on the example of a German poultry chain. Based on the results of the consumer study performed with 1021 consumers in Finland, 604 in Germany, 300 in Greece and 600 in France, there are many benefits for food industry and retailers by using TTIs. All the TTI related factors (improved quality, guarantee of safety and freshness) are quite important to the consumers when choosing packed fish/ meat products in all the studied countries. Based on the results, consumers are willing to pay for products with TTI. Nevertheless extensive education of all chain stakeholders is needed to ascertain a successful application of smart labels.
On the base of a train-the-trainer system, the SME-AGs acted as multiplicators towards their SME members in Norway, Finland, Greece, Romania, Poland and France but also towards consumers. The dissemination work has focused on promotion of the IQ-FRESHLABEL approach and the project itself as well as project achievements using the project web-site (www.iq-freshlabel.eu) as platform to enhance the interest of diverse target audiences by displaying for example complete training material translated in five languages.

Project Context and Objectives:
Controlling post production life cycle of food is an important element of food supply chains. Improper handling of product during transport, storage and in households results in quality defects, increases risk of microbial growth, subsequent spoilage and edible waste of food. Past projects such as the FP6 project FRESHLABEL succeeded in the development of the first generation of commercially available and applied Time-Temperature-Indicators (TTIs) for fresh chilled products and demonstrated that the number of rejected products and, thus, economical losses within a supply chain can be considerably reduced. However, there are still many unexploited application areas for smart labels, which IQ-FRESHLABEL aimed at reducing by the development of novel intelligent labels for indication of temperature abuse of frozen foods and by developing intelligent labels for Modified Atmosphere Packed (MAP) fresh poultry meat, showing with a colour change when the modified atmosphere is changing.

Hence, the first objective was to compile all relevant information to define the requirements for the development of tailor-made intelligent labels (WP1). This includes a definition and an up-date on technological needs and legislative constraints with respect to the control of the cold chain during transport and storage. Additional data and information supply to support the development studies conducted in parallel with respect to MAP and frozen food products has been targeted to elaborate a defined list of requirements of the MAP and frozen food producing SMEs towards smart labels and to contribute to the design of IQ-FRESHLABEL smart TTIs. The close monitoring of legislation is part of daily work of the SME-AGs and will therefore be continued beyond the project duration.

The overall objective of WP 2 was the development and the investigation of two types of intelligent labels. First an oxygen sensor to control the atmosphere in MA packed food products were evolved. In parallel a novel machine and eye-readable Al Time-Temperature Indicator was investigated to control the temperature history from the packaging process to the consumer. Both technologies were delivered by FRESH. To integrate such labels it is important to define the requirements of both labels in a first step. Therefore storage tests with MA packed poultry were conducted to investigate the influence of various parameters on the spoilage process of the product and the change of the atmosphere during storage: Spoilage process under different atmospheres (high and low oxygen; different O2 concentrations); Effect of leakages on the spoilage process and the atmosphere; Spoilage process by using different packaging materials; and Spoilage process as function of temperature. The data from the different storage tests were also the basis for the application of the labels in the poultry chain. Based on the results a model was developed which describe the spoilage kinetic of the product as a function of the temperature and gas atmosphere. Another model was developed to describe the kinetic of the Al TTI. The models were implemented in a software system which was developed by UBo: the meat spoilage predictor. A further objective of the WP2 was the validation of the new labels under laboratory and practical conditions. Last but not least a concept was developed to integrate the labels in different food chains.
Both smart labels provide information on the temperature history, the gas composition and the remaining shelf life and so together they allow a close food safety and quality prediction in each step of the chain.

These smart labels for frozen food products have to meet other demands compared to the TTIs for fresh products: Storage time is much longer; Temperature difference between optimal storage and risky high temperatures is much higher; Quality deterioration occurs already at slightly increased temperatures. The technical developments in frame of WP3 therefore targeted the establishment of CTTIs to control the quality and safety of frozen food products from production to consumption. Due to the availability of two suitable indicator systems provided by two participating SMEs (FRESH and VITSAB) the objectives of project revolved around the characterisation and feasibility proofing for both systems in addition to needed quality deterioration and spoilage studies on frozen fish products analogous to WP2. It was further foreseen to achieve progress on the evaluation of reaction times, colour responses and respective modelling with the temperature and time dependant quality losses in order to establish a basis for effective and reliable development and application of the labels. The aim was the refining of the modeling approach and the pilot verification in industrial environments to support a broad applicability and up-take of results in industry.

Next to the research on novel intelligent labels, IQ-FRESHLABEL aims at conducting consumer and retailer acceptance study with respect to intelligent labels application in order to support implementation of smart labels. The labels can offer a wide range of advantages, especially in the areas of quality management, food safety management (HACCP), ware house management, temperature monitoring, and waste reduction.
The aim of WP4 was to analyse benefits and risks considering the social and economical impact of the TTI labels application. The workpackage is a combination of four individual tasks which takes stand on the importance of TTI labels from various socio-economic perspectives. Task 4.1 is about the economical impact analysis of TTI application with aim to determine the economical impact of intelligent labels application. Task 4.2 on the other hand, elaborates stakeholders’ views on the benefits and shortcomings of TTI applications. In task 4.3 consumers’ opinions on TTIs are studied while task 4.4 summarises the main results of previous studies with aim to generate added value to further technology development and market implementation.

The WP5 objectives were driven and developed in parallel of the other Work Packages and targeted to gain project awareness by extensive dissemination and training of SMEs through the trained staff of the participating SME-AGs.

Project Results:
WP1 Definition of requirements and legislation
Task 1.1 Definition of requirements according to product specification by SMEs (task Leader UBO)
The main aim of this task was to gather as much information as possible in order to be able to draw an overall picture of the poultry meat and fish products within the different countries considered in the frame of this project. This included a representative view-point for small and medium-sized enterprises on problems and capabilities of such products in conjunction with the SME-specific attitudes and opinions towards TTIs. The SME requirements were completely delivered during the 1st reporting period so that the necessary basis for the development and pilot testing of the smart IQ-Freshlabel TTIs could be established successfully.
Starting from a general understanding that an effective cold-chain management system is required to ensure a high quality and safe status of packed MAP meat and fish products, it was important to gain detailed knowledge about the product characteristics, organisational structures as well technological aspects of the production, market requirements and the implementation of legislative aspects to be able to establish effective temperature monitoring in cold chain operations. In view of the IQ-Freshlabel smart TTIs that provide simple tools for continuous control (Taoukis and Labuza 1989, Kreyenschmidt et al. 2010), monitoring of the oxygen content in modified atmosphere packed products and potential oxidative degradation (Roberts et al. 2010, Mills 2009), requirements as well as recommendations were sought.
Hence, a questionnaire was developed by UBO with support and feedback from the other participating RTDs and sent to the project partners who constitute the group of end-user SMEs within the IQ-Freshlabel consortium. The questionnaire included aspects about recommendations and description of the products which will be tested in the pilot chains, recommendation and description of the pilot chains for further evaluation, and own experience with intelligent labels as well as potential market requirements anticipated by the SME end-users. Both, UBO and TTZ supported the end-user SMEs in giving consistent answers and providing similar levels of detail as common information basis whilst maintaining an open dialogue and discussion on new aspects to be considered in the frame of the IQ-Freshlabel project.
In terms of information about the user requirements and attitudes, product properties and especially price segment where intelligent labels would attach, the use of intelligent labels would be imaginable for products starting at a product price of 4 € and the labels should be easy to use. As a potential disadvantage it was noted that consumer will buy those products with the “best colour”. This could lead in contrary to the project aims to an increase of food waste, if insufficient training or consumer understanding would be achieved (BORGMEIER). Furthermore pressure from the retailer to the processing and logistic company might become even greater.
For the company KONTOVEROS the use of the TTI labels especially from producer to consumer is of great interest. They mentioned that the label price per unit should not exceed 3% of the product price. GOURMET noted that the use of the TTIs would be imaginable for products starting at a product price of >6 € and could be very useful for their products. A very practice-oriented challenge for the development of the CTTIs was further raised as freezer snow may accumulate on the box. This has to be considered by the development of the TTI as a potential disturbing factor.
The pilot chains identified were predominantly national supply chains of either short distance (approx. 20 km) but with considerably high ambient temperatures in Greece between Aspropyrgos and Athens or several hundred kilometers distance between Delbrück and Stuttgart (approx. 460 km) with lower ambient temperatures at a nevertheless high variability between summer- and winter-time.
A detailed analysis of the questionnaire can be found in Deliverable D1.1. “Report on the definition of requirements according to product specifications by SMEs”.
Another positive outcome of the task was that BORGMEIER identified and requested the testing of fresh poultry products within their national German supply chain for the use of oxygen labels as well as the emerging aluminum TTIs (see work package 2). KONTOVEROS defined and supported the testing of CTTIs in frozen fish products in a national Greek supply chain, as well as GOURMET provided input and samples for the testing of frozen fish convenience products (composite food samples) in a national production and distribution chain in Germany.

Task 1.2 Regulations and legal aspects (task leader NSL)
Another important aspect for the definition of TTIs was to consider the related relevant European legislation. The aim of this task was to compile legislation related to the traceability of the cold chain during transport and storage of fresh food products both at a European and National level.
Under the lead of NSL TTZ carried out this task with the input from the RTDs and SMEIAGs comprised in the consortium. Especially VTT and NTUA as well as the various SME-IAGs involved have contributed to gain an understanding of the implementation of the European legislation on national level and country-specific requirements and boundaries. The output of this task was compiled in Deliverable 1.2 “Report on regulations and legal aspects”, which constitutes the legal framework for the development of the IQ FRESHLABEL TTIs.
The legislation considered included general food legislation, traceability legislation on food products and cold chain, as well as other directives and regulations related to traceability, and food packaging legislation. It was concluded that current food safety and traceability regulations support the future use of smart and critical TTIs due to their immense potential to monitor and to identify appropriate handling of perishable products along the complete food value chain. Yet no legislative or regulatory barriers were identified which would challenge the implementation technology of the IQ-Freshlabel TTIs in terms of legal requirements for packaging. Considerations were drawn for laminating technologies and mere attachment of the labels as well as for required food contact. In addition, it was noted that consumer aspects and voluntary food standards pushed by retail chains and imposed on food business operators will require further reflection and monitoring throughout the run-time of the IQ-Freshlabel project. The planning of an up-dated Deliverable report D1.3 was thus confirmed.
Close monitoring at national and European level of the development of the legislative constraints with respect to the control of the cold chain during transport and storage was performed continuously during the whole project by the WP-leader NSL, the RTD performers as well as the other SME-AGs. No changes in national or European legislation have occurred during the project as described in Deliverable D1.3.

Task 1.3 Definition of novel TTI characteristics by the RTDs and technology providing SME (task Leader NTUA)
The aim of this task was to assess all the collected information in the previous tasks and to define the theoretical design of the IQ-FRESHLABEL TTIs and thus to give the characteristics of the novel smart labels, responding to SMEs’ needs for frozen and modified atmosphere packed food. This task was implemented by NTUA with the contribution of the technology providing partners FRESH and VITSAB. The results of previous studies on enzymatic and photochemical TTIs at refrigerated storage were used to determine the characteristics of the TTI for frozen foods. The outcome of this task was the theoretical design of the novel labels. Hence, Milestone M1.1 has been achieved successfully in due time.
Given the project focuses on the development of intelligent labels for application as oxygen indicator combined with TTI as well as critical TTIs for frozen products, the target food products considered in the project included fresh poultry meat and frozen fish.
However, it was taken into account from the project start on that should be applied to any chilled MAP or frozen food product. This context was integrated in the current development of an oxygen indicator driven by UB and UBO with major impact from FRESH. The indicator is based on two systems of application: eye readable (cumulative) and machine readable (momentary). The novel approach of the IQ-FRESHLABEL project is to combine the oxygen sensing technology with time and temperature indication at one single label. That label was thus designed to indicate not only the change of the oxygen concentration within the package caused by damages, but also the influence of the storage conditions on the MAP packed product.
Additionally, the basis for an indicator that monitors the thermal abuses during storage of frozen food was set. This functionality is referred in the DoW as Critical TTI, for its ability to indicate that the product was exposed to an undesirable critical temperature for a time sufficient to cause changes critical to the quality of the product (thawing effect). In order to support an accurate development, this indicator was more accurately defined as Thawing Temperature Integrator. The technology provided by FRESH integrated in the concept is based on the activation of colorless crystalline pigments by a controllable exposure to UV light. The second concept under leadership of VITSAB selected and defined for the IQFreshlabel development is based on an enzyme reaction acting on a lipid substrate. It was further defined and determined that the experimental design allows for key recommendations in novel TTIs development and allows for a which can be translated into an equivalent exposure time at the critical temperature and not only to simple freeze-thaw indicators.

Deliverable report D1.4 details the characteristics of the novel smart labels under the above context and provisions based on a thorough assessment of the technical state-of-the- art and available literature to conclude the theoretical TTI design.
For the development of the IQ-Freshlabel oxygen indicator the following principles were established to provide technical guidance and optimisation approaches:

1) Momentary oxygen sensors: The two suggested ways of monitoring the concentration of oxygen in an atmosphere is by following the reaction between an excited state of a molecule and oxygen. This may be achieved by one of two ways:
a) Following the quenching of an excited state by oxygen. In order to make this easy and inexpensive, one should follow the quenching of a long lived state. If only foodstuff or GRAS materials are considered, all metallic systems have to be disregarded. Organic systems having long lived triplet emission are thus required in order to keep the detection scheme inexpensive, e.g. by further utilisation of LEDs for photoexcitation and detection which is not wavelength selective (measurement of ALL light emitted from the sample). Such an approach requires emission collection after the singlet had decayed (~5 ns after the exciting pulse). Assuming further ~100 microseconds lifetime of the triplet at the relevant oxygen concentration, a lock-in amplifier as well as a time resolved system is recommended for detection.
b) Following the oxidation of an excited state by oxygen. A user-friendly and costefficient implementation of this approach requires the quenching of a coloured and luminescent system. Similar to the quenching of an excited state by oxygen, metallic systems are to be disregarded to ensure suitability for food contact and deployment of GRAS materials and organic systems featuring colour and luminescence are the materials of choice. In order to keep the detection scheme inexpensive one must rely on LEDs for photoexcitation and perform either colorimetric or visual detection.

2) Accumulated oxygen sensors: The suggested way of monitoring the integrated exposure of a product to oxygen is through following the reaction between a colourforming readily oxidized species and oxygen. In order to offer a simple visual detection, the reaction was defined to take place in a medium in which the integrated exposure to oxygen is manifested in the penetration depth of the colour.
The technical scheme of such reactive systems is as follows: an edible material that readily reacts with oxygen is dissolved in an aqueous gel and placed in a transparent tube made of an oxygen impermeable material such as EVOH. The tube is placed inside the MAP and is opened only at one end. Oxygen, if present in the MAP, will slowly diffuse through the gel, reacting with the colour forming material. The penetration depth of the colour serves as an indicator to the overall exposure of the sensor to oxygen. At low oxygen concentrations the penetration depth will be small while at high concentration of oxygen the penetration depth will be large. This system is expected to mimic the degradation of the food product as a function of the concentration of oxygen in the MAP.
For the development of the IQ-Freshlabel TTIs for frozen food the basic technological principles and systems were already more defined and available at larger detail at the project start especially due to the expert know-how and background brought by FRESH and VITSAB to the IQ-Freshlabel consortium. Hence the challenges in the development within the frame of the project were defined with the development of the systems’ functionality to act as an indicator of thawing effects and to capture the intervals of exposure to thawing temperature. For this reason a selection of critical conditions was performed and the relation to frozen food quality losses was established based on recent survey results revealing significant temperature fluctuations despite the implementation of good practices as well as high monitoring and control efforts (Giannakourou et al., 2002; Giannakourou at el., 2003a and b; Tsironi et al., 2009). The slow, but steady quality changes of frozen foods which are highly dependent on the storage temperature were initially placed into context with activation energy between 100 and 120 kJ/mol for a number of exemplary foods. In addition, the requirement for a continuous TTI that shows an exposure above a reference temperature after a certain period of time was stressed.

Further details are found in D1.4 with reference to the system concepts of FRESH and VITSAB. Determining factors were listed for the TTIs following the concept of FRESH in terms of activation and charging time as well as shelf-life durability beyond currently known functionality (Tsironi et al., 2008; Kreyenschmidt et al., 2010). Also, a composite mathematical equation has been developed that describes the effect of the degree of initial activation and storage temperature on the response of OnVuTM TTI (Tsironi et al., 2011) and which will build the technical basis for frozen food requirements. For the second system under VITSAB, the concentration of the substrate has been elaborated as major determining factor for further developments towards full CTTI functionality. Previous studies showed that the response rate of these TTIs can be modelled as a function of the substrate concentration and the storage temperature. Applying the developed models, the required proportion of substrate, to effectively monitor the shelf life of the frozen fish products, can be estimated. This TTI system can be used in a wide temperature range from frozen to room temperatures (Giannakourou et al., 2002; 2003a and b; 2006) and the purpose is to develop applications for frozen foods monitoring quality changes in the products with the help of these full history TTI labels.
Finally, the link between the technical TTI development and the degradation of frozen fish was highlighted for near subfreezing temperatures and especially when thawing is observed, as compared to frozen storage (Rahman, 1995; Dunn et al., 2008; Tsironi et al., 2009). An initial framework was established as guidance for the work package 3 tasks which will detail the kinetic studies and their application in the IQ-Freshlabel project as shown in figure 4 below. In this figure, the matching enzymatic TTI (M-type) for monitoring the quality degradation of frozen gilthead seabream fillets and frozen shrimp is determined exemplary by calculating the appropriate enzyme concentration, based on previous results on frozen fish and the developed models for TTI response at refrigerated storage.

WP2 Oxygen sensor development for MAP food

Task 2.1 Investigation of the eye readable oxygen sensor and the machine readable sensor (Task leader UB)
In this task a machine readable oxygen sensor was developed by UB. In the project two different oxygen detection schemes were developed: The first one was based on a commercial fluorescent/phosphorescent dye. Here the oxygen acts as a phosphorescence quencher and, thus, modifies the total signal by several percent (only). To achieve the necessary sensitivity, a sophisticated gating technology was implemented, which separates the fluorescence and the phosphorescence signal and which required a great deal of instrumental effort. Due to this instrumental effort the UB abandoned this detection scheme and switched over to a completely novel chemical approach. The newly developed dye delivers a large luminescence signal under UV irradiation and the presence of oxygen. This feature can be utilized to produce ‘Oxygen labels’ which show, through absence or presence of luminescence the existence of oxygen in a quantitative fashion. With these labels ad hand it is possible to measure quantitatively the oxygen concentrations in food containers in a non-invasive fashion (i.e. the containers do not have to be penetrated).
Ideally the oxygen labels would be a printable technology since this is the cheapest way to implement intelligent labels. Generally, it is possible to print the developed oxygen detector but it would have exceeded the project frame by far and so the project was brought to conclusion with a label whose production was based on ‘wet chemistry’ (spin coating).
Fig. 1 (see Annex) shows such a spin coated Oxygen label in a food container and in the optical setup, allowing to measure the total label fluorescence (as a quantitative signal for the presence of oxygen).

Task 2.2 Testing of the Aluminium based TTIs (Task Leader UBO)
The aim of this task was to analyse the kinetic of a novel Al TTI System. The new label consists out of two components: an aluminum layer and special glue. By changing the concentration of the glue or the thickness of the Al layer the label can be adapted to different products.
In a first step, a standard operation procedure (SOP) for experimenting with CoolVu TTI labels was developed by UBO and FRESH. The measurement procedure is based on a colorimetric measurement by using a spectrophotometer.
Different TTI types were developed by FRESH and the discoloration process was investigated at the UBO. In a first step, the labels were tested at 4°C to test their general usability for MA packed poultry products. Later the influence of the storage temperature was investigated for different types of label.

Figure 3 shows the discoloration of on Al TTI under different temperature conditions and the shelf life of the label as function of the temperature.
In the task the kinetic of several types of TTIs were analyzed.
An overview about the detailed investigation can be found in the Del. 2.3 and 2.5.

Task. 2.3 Investigation of the spoilage process of poultry stored under different gas composition (Task Leader TTZ)
In this task the spoilage process of MA packed chicken breast filet (UBO) and MA packed chicken legs (TTZ) were investigated. Both poultry products were supplied by BORGMEIER.
The influences of the following parameter on the spoilage process of the two poultry products were tested:
1. Temperature: Storage tests were conducted under different temperatures 2-15°C. Specific spoilage organisms, sensory and chemical parameter were investigated. Figure 4 shows the influence of temperature on the development of the TVC and the shelf life.

2. Gas atmosphere: The influence of different gas atmospheres were tested with poultry filets (UBO) and legs (TTZ) (Figure 5 left) to analyze the best gas concentration for MA packed poultry products. An oxygen concentration of 55-60%, 25% CO2 plus nitrogen could be identified as the best atmosphere for poultry. The samples were delivered by Borgmeier.

3. Leakages: Leakages inside a package had a significant influence on the spoilage organisms and the sensory development of MAP poultry (Figure 5 right). Shelf life was reduced of approximately 30% due to a leakage of a size of 0.2 mm (UBO).

4. Packaging material: The applications of different common packaging foils were tested by UBO. No significant difference could be dined between the different tested materials.
The results were used to define the requirements of both types of label and to develop the shelf life model and the meat and TTI predictor.

Task 2.4 Modeling approach (Task leader UBO)
In a first step the growth of the microorganisms over time and the development of sensory parameter were modeled for poultry filets and legs by using the modified Gompertz Model. For the secondary modeling approach the Arrhenius function was used. Same model were used to describe the discoloration of the Al TTI (TTZ, UBO).
Based on the models two online software tools were developed by UBO and will be published in the next months on the CCM-network and the Freshlabel webpage. The first tool is called “MeatSpoilagePredictor” (MSP) and enables the user to estimate the shelf life of food depending on the storage temperature, the starting counts and the sort of packaging resp. gas atmosphere. The MSP offers two different modes: an easy-to-use mode which will be used for demonstrations or education, and an extended mode which allows the user to have control over several parameters.
The second software tool allows the prediction of the color of the TTI as a function of time and temperature and the prediction of the remaining shelf life of the product, where the TTI is attached to, based on the measured SV value. The software is based on the developed model described above.

2.5 Validation of oxygen sensor and TTI in a laboratory scale (Task Leader UBO)
In this task the effect of dynamic temperature conditions on the discoloration of the label was investigated. The developed model was validated for the dynamic temperature profiles and it was shown that it allows precise predictions (UBO).
In a first pilot trial conducted by TTZ; UBO, FRESH and Borgmeier in June 2013 it was shown that the labels behave different behaviors under practical conditions in comparison to the lab trials (see also task 2.8). In the field trial the discoloration rate was significant longer than in the lab. Because of these results several investigations have been conducted by FRESH, TTZ, and UBO (from July 2013- January 2014) to identify the problem which occurs during the pilot trials. The influence of storage temperature during transport, the influence of humidity, the influence of different glues and different Al layers were tested. In December 2013 the relevant problems resp. the challenges have been solved and the labels have been improved. From the results of the different tests the conclusion was made that humidity during the storage is the most relevant parameter. A new film was developed by FRESH to protect the label against humidity. This new label was tested in the 2nd pilot trial in January 2014 (TTZ; UBO, FRESH and Borgmeier).
Further on the oxygen sensor was tested under lab conditions to determine if the developed label is suitable for prototype applications in a food packaging environment by UB. The oxygen indictors were packed under different O2 concentrations and sealed in a traysealer packaging machine at (UB, UBO). The results of the tests showed that the oxygen content of packaging boxes can be measured quantitatively. It turned out that the experiments under ‘simulation conditions’ with plastic boxes are, in tendency, more accurate as compared to the experiments in the small stainless steel sample holder (task 2.1). So an accurate optical data for measuring the gas concentration in packaging boxes with optical means was achieved. It turned out that the developed method is most sensitive in the concentration range between 0% and 60% oxygen. In the experiments the feasibility of a newly developed optical method to measure leaks in packages and to characterize their oxygen content by optical means was shown (i.e. without penetrating the package seal with an external instrument was shown.
Additionally to the by UB developed oxygen sensor, UBO tested a system which is on the market available for medical products and which will now be tested in food chains (FA Ocean optics, NL).
Generally, the tested equipment has high potential to control the oxygen concentration in MA packed food products. The influence of different packaging material on the measurements has still to be improved. The equipment was also tested in the 2nd pilot trial in January 2014.

Task 2.6 Development of a concept to integrate the labels in different food chains (TL UBO)
Under this task the technical challenges for the implementation of two different types of labels to one combined label have been identified and solutions for the implementation have been presented. Generally, it was pointed out that the integration of different labels inside and outside the package from the technical point of view isn’t a big challenge anymore. But the problem is that the extension of the machinery equipment (packaging and labelling machine) which is necessary to implement the labels is often expensive since special developments of the machines are required. Particularly the application of labels inside the package from the economic point of view is still a big challenge.
Further on a concept for a combined label was developed by UBO (Del 2.7). The label is structured in a way that the information delivered by the TTI is readable for the consumer and the oxygen indicator is a machine readable label for industry. Both information are integrated in a QR-code (Figure 8). In this approach the oxygen sensor replaces one of the black boxes in the corners of a QR-label, attached to the foil from the bottom-side. The TTI is placed in the middle of the QR-code. The QR-code can be linked to a website which provides information about the TTI and the meaning of the dissolving process in respect to the quality of the product.
Moreover a concept was elaborated how the labels can be integrated in an overall quality management system resp. HACCP system of different companies. It was shown how the developed model can be used to define the acceptance levels of the TTI and the measured oxygen concentration. Also the integration of the developed software system (Figure 9) to support the HACCP system was shown.

Task 2.7 Validation of the developed oxygen sensor and Al TTI in pilot studies (Task Leader TTZ)
As mentioned already under task 2.5 a first pilot trail was conducted in June 2013. One was conducted by the TTZ where the TTI were attached to the poultry legs. And a parallel UBO tested the label with MA packed poultry filets. The oxygen label developed by UB could not be tested during this trial.
The reason for not being able to test a ‘common TTI-Oxygen detector’ was, that the TTI label production is based on a printing technology and the Oxygen label is based on production through ‘wet chemistry’ (spin coating). In a next step this spin coating technology would have to be replaced by a printing technique. The development of a functional Oxygen sensing printing dye, however, is rather ambitious and could not be accommodated within the project frame.
After slaughtering and cutting at a German slaughterhouse (Borgmeier, Paderborn-Delbrück), poultry filets were packed in MA packages, labeled with TTIs and packed in boxes. The boxes were loaded on pallets and transported to a wholesaler, than distributed to different butchers and retailers and afterwards to the UBO and to the TTZ. In the labs the samples were stored under household conditions (4°C and 7°C). After certain time intervals the color of the Al TTIs and the microbial and sensory quality of the products were investigated. Figure 10 shows the supply chain and the inspection points for the poultry filet chain which was investigated by UBO. Similar trials were conducted by TTZ with poultry leg.
As mentioned previously the label behaved different under practical conditions. Therefore a new study with the improved labeled and the oxygen indicator from the Fa. OceanOptics (NL) was tested in January 2014. Also the TTIs from the project partner Vitsab were tested in this trial. The design of the study was similar to the first trial (FRESH; TTZ; UBO; UB, Borgmeier).
In the second trial it was shown that the labels have a high potential to monitor temperature conditions of perishable products. With the new adhesive film the discoloration process was shorter than the previous one. But improvements are still necessary to adapt the label to the spoilage kinetic of the product. The VitSab TTI shows a good correlation with the spoilage process of the TTI. The tested oxygen equipment offers the possibility to detect leakages in the MA packaging. The developed spoilage model gave a precise prediction of the bacterial growth under practical conditions.

WP3 Critical TTI development for frozen food

Task 3.1. Evaluation and testing of the response of Critical Time Temperature Indicators for monitoring frozen foods
TTI prototypes were developed for application for frozen fish and seafood (Deliverable 3.1). However, the developed labels would be applicable to different frozen food products for which the requirements have been adequately defined so that the proper TTI can be selected. These prototypes have been produced by the technology providing SMEs based on the characteristics defined in Task 1.4 and the respective technical and chemical specifications described as most promising for candidate TTIs to be developed for testing and application within the scope of WP3.

Photochromic labels
The prototypes provided by FRESH from the first technology are photochromic labels showing a colour change that can be correlated to the cumulative detrimental effect of time-temperature exposure on frozen food products. The determining factor for this TTI is the time of activation; the higher the charging time, the longer the shelf life of the TTI. The temperature dependence, i.e. the Ea value is dependent on the specific chemistry used.
Label B1 combines two spiropyran moieties ("dimer spiropyran") with nitro and methoxy substituents (Figure 1a). A label coded F1 that is based on a monomer spiropyran with cyclohexyl substituent. F1 label was printed in the regular printing process of B1 and was developed only for frozen foods (Figure 1b). Compared to other designs it exhibits an extremely high fading rate at above zero temperatures. Label F4 is based on a monomer spiropyran with two nitro groups. This label was printed in the laboratory in a simple dot configuration (Figure 1c). This design aims to have high temperature sensitivity (high Ea value) based on which it could be used for frozen foods with short shelf life at near subfreezing temperatures and long shelf life at -18°C.

Enzymatic labels
The prototypes from the second technology are based on an enzymic reaction resulting in a colour change that can be correlated to the cumulative detrimental effect of time-temperature exposure on frozen food products (details of the principles and chemistry of operation were provided in D1.4). For this type of TTI, the parameters that allow targeted design of the response characteristics are the concentration of the enzyme and the type of substrate. Enzyme concentration defines the response rate and thus total response time of the TTI.
M-type enzymic TTI contains pancreatic lipase at concentrations of 50 and 100 Units and methylmyristate as substrate (Figure 2a). LP-type enzymatic TTI contains pancreatic lipase at concentrations of 600 and 1000 Units and a mixture of trilaurin and tripalmitin as substrate (Figure 2b).
The response time for each TTI label prototype was determined according to the methodology developed within Task 3.1. Response times and statistical reproducibility were determined from storage tests using multiple TTI samples stored at a wide range of conditions including low temperatures in the real frozen foods range (-8 to -15°C) and addressing as well the defrosting issues at 0° and at 5°C (Deliverable 3.2). Colour scales were developed to measure the response change with time visually and by a colour measuring instrument. The experiments performed have confirmed that the TTIs do indeed function predictably and consistently at all temperatures. The variability of responses on the average was 5.5% (% variance) and did not exceed 20%. This is very satisfactory performance, especially for batches of prototypes that are not yet in regular production where variability is expected to improve further.

Task 3.2. Definition of quality indices of the frozen fish products and testing at different storage temperatures
Frozen fish products of commercial significance and/or high sensitivity to changes of storage temperature were selected by the SME-AGs and SMEs and studied by the NTUA and TTZ. Seven seafood products, i.e.
- blueshark slices (Prionace glauca)
- arrow squid (Nototodarus sloanii)
- gilthead seabream fillets (Sparus aurata)
- seafood risotto
- shrimp (Penaeus notialis)
- Alaska Pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) Roulade with vegetable stuffing
- Minced Pangasius (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus) with tomato sauce
were stored at 15, -12, -10 and -5°C and at 0 and 5°C. Microbiological (total viable count, Pseudomonas spp., lactic acid bacteria), chemical (TVB-N, TBARs),and physicochemical (colour, texture) quality indices were considered and correlated to the results of parallel sensory evaluation and scoring by a trained sensory panel. The threshold values corresponding to sensory rejection (i.e end of shelf-life) were determined. Time to reach these values was determined at the different storage temperatures.
The indices that could more consistently be correlated to time-temperature history of the products were chemical indices (TBARS and TVB-N) and sensory scores (Deliverable 3.3).

Task 3.3. Modelling the kinetics and temperature dependence of the response of critical TTIs and of the quality deterioration of the frozen fish products
The aim of the task was to model the continuous colour change of the TTIs as a function of temperature by running kinetic experiments. In parallel storage experiments of the selected frozen fish products were conducted to kinetically model the change of the characteristic quality indices and the temperature dependence of the quality loss rates of the frozen products. The threshold values corresponding to sensory rejection (i.e end of shelf-life) were determined (Deliverable 3.4).
Based on the values at the end of shelf life of the selected indices and the temperature dependence of their rate constants expressed by the Arrhenius kinetics, the following equations for shelf life calculation were developed where tSL is the shelf life (d), CTVB-N,l, CTBARS,l and sl are the limits TVB-N, TBARs and overall impression, respectively, CTVB-N,o, CTBARS,o and so are the initial TVB-N, TBARs and overall impression, respectively, kref is the rate constant of change of each quality index at Tref, Ea is the activation energy of the respective quality index and R is the universal gas constant (Deliverable 3.6) .
For the modelling of the response rate constant of the photochromic TTI as a function of degree of initial activation and storage temperature, a composite mathematical equation was developed where ΔΕ(tc=1s) the initial response (t=0) of the photochromic TTI exposed under UV radiation for 1s, tc the charging time, Ea is the activation energy (J/mol), R is the universal gas constant, kref,Tref,1s is the TTI response rate constant at Tref (with charging time tc=1s), a and b are constants and t, T are the storage time and temperature respectively.
A mathematical model which describes the effect of the enzyme concentration and the storage temperature on the response of the enzymatic TTI was also developed where T is the storage temperature (K), Ea is the activation energy (J/mol), R is the universal gas constant, Tref is a reference temperature, C is the enzyme concentration and B1,2 are constants (Deliverable 3.5).

Task 3.4. Validation of the critical TTIs in a laboratory scale
Within this task, the developed indicators were evaluated and validated with an extensive laboratory scale experiment simulating abusive cold chain conditions of storage for the following fish products:
- frozen blueshark slices
- squid
- gilthead seabream fillets
- seafood risotto, and
- whole, unpeeled shrimp
Appropriate photochemical and enzymatic TTIs were selected and attached on each frozen food based on the shelf life tests and mathematical models developed in Task 3.3.

Samples were stored at two constant temperatures (i.e. -5 and -10°C) and at variable temperature conditions. Two time-temperature scenarios are used. The first scenario included repeated cycles of three isothermal steps of 12 h each (i.e. 12 h at -5°C, 12 h -8°C an 12 h at -10°C). The second time-temperature scenario was similar to the first, including a temperature abuse of 5 h at 5°C every 7 days. The remaining shelf life (SLR) of each frozen seafood product at predetermined times was calculated (a) by the experimentally estimated overall sensory impression (SLR-actual), (b) from the food kinetic models for sensory evaluation using the real Teff (SLR-food), (c) from the food kinetic models for sensory evaluation using the real Teff by the TTI response (SLR-food-TTI) and (d) directly from the TTI reading (SLR-TTI). SLR-food-TTI is the remaining time for the tested TTI to reach the end point (i.e. red colour for the enzymatic TTIs and light blue for the protochromic TTIs) and indicate end of shelf life at a reference temperature Tref=-15°C. The above described expressions of SLR were also compared with the nominal remaining shelf life (SLR-based-on-use-by-date), based on the "use by" date (18 months for all products if stored at -18°C, as reported in D1.1) which does not consider the time-temperature history of the products and is quite conservative for constant storage temperature of -18°C. One should consider that the validation tests where implemented at particularly harsh conditions for frozen products (-5°C to -10°C) therefore the shelf life is several times shorter than what the label declares. This demonstrates the value of having the TTI monitoring (Deliverable 3.7).

Task 3.5. Optimizing the quality of the critical TTIs
Based on the results of the validation tests in a laboratory scale (Task 3.4) the TTI performance at simulated cold chain conditions was verified. In order to develop and fine tune the response of the TTIs, a larger scale of TTI labels was extensively tested. Two types of photocromic TTIs were studied and a selection of a new range of activation times which better suited the target frozen food products lead to the development of new optimised mathematical models. These models could describe the TTI behaviour with more accuracy. UV activation for the B1 TTIs ranged from 0.1 to 1 sec and for the F4 TTIs from 3 to 10 sec. Two enzymatic TTIs (M and LP type) of different enzyme concentrations (7 batches for M type and 3 batches for LP type) were also studied. For achieving long and short response times, the nominal concentration for the M labels was ranged from 1 to 200 Units, while for the LP labels the studied range varied from 600 to 2000 Units.
The experiments conducted within Tasks 3.3 and 3.4 confirmed that the developed TTIs do indeed function predictably and consistently at all temperatures. Generalised mathematical models were developed including data obtained from different TTI batches and their reliability to predict the TTIs’ response was examined. They were then used for the validation and applicability of the "mass" produced labels (Deliverable 3.8).

Task 3.6. Validation of the developed critical TTI in pilot studies
Appropriate photochemical and enzymatic optimized TTI were selected and attached on frozen fish products (blueshark slices, squid and shrimp) based on the shelf life tests and mathematical models developed in the previous tasks. Samples were produced by KONTOVEROS S.A. and stored for approximately two months in the production warehouse. Afterwards, samples were transported and stored for two months in the distribution center (Inofita, Attica, Greece) and were distributed to 9 retail stores in collaboration with a leading supermarket chain (AB Vassilopoulos S.A.). 6 months later, samples were transported to NTUA to simulate the storage conditions of domestic freezers, in high-precision low temperature incubators at two constant sub frozen temperatures (i.e. -10 and -20°C). The quality level and remaining shelf life at predetermined times (i.e. distribution and consumption) were estimated based on the response of the TTIs and the values were compared to actual measured values of the quality indices (TVB-N value, TBARs and sensory evaluation).
TTZ validated the developed TTIs in pilot studies of shrimp. Samples were shipped from KONTOVEROS simulating a path to a “distant” market (from Greece to Germany) and retail/domestic storage at different conditions. The quality level and remaining shelf life at predetermined times (i.e. distribution and consumption) were estimated based on the response of the TTIs and the values were compared to actual measured values of the quality indices (TVB-N value, TBARs and sensory evaluation).

WP4 Socio-economical Impact

Task 4.1: Economical impact analysis
The aim of the task 4.1 was to determine the economical impact of intelligent labels application. The analysis was separated in two parts. The first part is focusing on the determination of the effect of the label implementation on environmental factors and sustainable food production. The second part is concentrating on the establishment of a cost and benefit analysis (CBA) for the implementation of the labels in different parts of the chain. The costs and benefits are depending on several factors, like the chain parameter, the product itself, the technology of the label, the business philosophy- strategy and the consumer behaviour. To consider all these factors, a flexible Excel Tool was developed in a way that it can be adapted easily to other kinds of intelligent labels and also to different step of the chain.
To reach this overall aim a four step approach was established (figure 1). The overall study was elaborated for the implementation of Time-Temperature Indicators.

In a first step expert interviews and a literature study were conducted and a concept for the general approach was defined. Further on a supply chain was defined which were used to illustrate the general approach to define the economical impact of the label application. In a second step the amount of foond waste was calculated for the chosen supply chain and the selected intelligent label (Time-Temperature-Indicator). The lack of detailed information and data about food waste in different steps of the poultry chain was one general problem. Therefore different food waste scenarios and assumptions were made. The assumptions were defined based on expert interviews and on the discussions within the consortium. In a third step the effect of the label implementation on environmental factors resp. a sustainable food production was calculated. In a fourth step an excel tool was developed to calculate the cost and benefits for the implementation of intelligent labels in different parts of the supply chain. The calculation was exemplified for the selected national poultry chain for the steps manufacture and consumer.
The cost-benefit analysis (CBA) for the implementation of intelligent labels in different steps of the chain shows that the implementation of the TTI delivers a measurable benefit for the chosen poultry processing company and for the consumer. Also the intangible benefits such as improving public image can lead in the long term to an increase in sales and thus to a measurable economic benefit. Furthermore the analysis shows that the implementation of intelligent labels such as TTIs will have a positive effect on a sustainable food production: Taking the assumption that 12% is wasted in the exemplified poultry chain and 35% of the waste can be prevented due to the implementation of TTIs, that means that the food waste can be reduced by 100 496 kg in this small selected supply chain. Taking the assumption that 22% is wasted than the waste increase up to 157 650 kg.
For a sustainable food production this means for the selected processing company: 91 360 animals are slaughtered without consumption (12% food waste). The breeding and fatting of these animals requires high amounts of natural resources (2.56 million l water and 1.21million kg feed). At the same time 182 720kg CO2 is produced and 124 798 kWh energy are required. In addition the processing of the animals requires 124 798kWh energy, produces 35 630kg CO2 and consumes 158 209 trays for the packaging process.
All these results refer to a German case poultry chain where the processing company has a market share of 0.65 %, so the real data with respect to a sustainable food production are much higher. Taking into account that for example about 12% of the fresh poultry in Germany (380 000t/a) is wasted in the whole chain this equates an amount of around 44 million kg/a of meat. For the breeding and fatting of the animals (39,9 million) high amounts of natural resources are required: 1116.8 million l water and 527.3 million kg of feed. At the same time 79,8 million kg CO2 is produced. For a sustainable food production it is important to reduce the amount of waste significantly and to increase resource efficiency. Thus the application of intelligent packaging solutions such as TTI can bring a significant economic benefit for different participants of the chain and also for a sustainable food production.

Task 4.2: Social impact analysis: In-depth analysis of the chain’s stakeholder attitude
Task 4.2 dealt with Greek, French, German and Finnish meat and fish manufacturers’ and retailers’ views on TTI applications. The specific aim of the study was to describe and analyse key stakeholders’ positive and negative perceptions on TTIs. To reach the aim, meat manufacturers and retailers were interviewed in France, Greece, Germany and Finland.
Results show that several benefits related to TTIs, but also several barriers hindering TTI use and needs for implementation were considered by the interviewed managers. Once reviewing the entire data, two TTI related benefits seemed important in each country. In general, TTIs were considered by both manufacturers and retailers as potential tool to manage and control cold chain. However, this benefit was conditional; TTIs should be able to record and store the time temperature history if used for this purpose. The other benefit shared across the countries was related to using TTIs as marketing tool. In such a use, manufacturers and retailers could create value to consumers by indicating that they take consumers’ interests seriously and try to provide them good quality meat and fish products.
Despite the benefits, shared barriers hindering TTI use emerged from the data. First of all, both manufacturers and retailers in each country were concerned about the possibility that TTIs confuse consumers. As a reason, they mentioned the intermediate colours used in some TTI applications which might be difficult to interpret by consumers. The other source for consumer confusion lies in the potential that TTI’s message is in a contradiction with other freshness labels (e.g. expiration date has passed, but TTI implies that product is good or vice versa). This kind of situation could lead to a serious confusion among consumers and have effect on meat or fish product demand. The other shared barrier dealt with consumers as well, namely the possible lack of market demand. This worried at least some manufacturers and retailers in each country and was mainly related to stakeholders’ concerns regarding consumers’ willingness to pay for TTIs. Final barrier hindering TTI use which was mentioned almost by all interviewees dealt with the liability issues generated by TTIs. The worry crystallises in the question raised by some interviewees: “Who pays the bill?” Perhaps the main driver for this worry is the fragmented nature of cold chain, that is, there is no single party who controls the entire cold chain. Thus, manufacturers cannot control the cold chain after the products have left their facilities and retailers cannot control how consumers handle the products after purchase. If these liability issues could be solved somehow, then TTIs might be feasible solution for all relevant stakeholders within the value chain.
Three needs related to TTI implementation emerged from all countries involved in the study. Education in different forms and for different audiences were emphasised by both manufacturers and retailers. For instance, consumer education regarding TTI concept (and interpretation of message) and also manufacturer, retailer and policy maker education were mentioned by different interviewees. Another widely shared need reflects the barrier dealing with the liability issues. Several interviewees emphasised negotiations and agreement regarding TTI use between all relevant stakeholders within the value chain. Also different stakeholders’ commitment to TTI use was mentioned frequently. Final need concerns TTIs’ inability to record and store time temperature history. This kind of ability was considered important by several stakeholders in all countries. At the moment, loggers are mainly used to monitor and control cold chain. However, they are considered somewhat expensive meaning that TTIs with similar ability would make the decision to implement those much easier for manufacturers and stakeholders.

Task 4.3: Social impact analysis: Consumer acceptance study
The aim of the consumer study was to evaluate the factors decreasing and increasing French, German, Greek and Finnish consumers’ interest in smart label applications to the food products and the willingness to pay for quality improved product. The actual study consisted of qualitative and quantitative phases. In qualitative study altogether 16 focus group interviews were conducted in Finland, Germany, France and Greece (4 focus groups in each location) with discussion about the participants’ consumption habits, about TTI concept, about ideal TTI and about actual TTIs. The quantitative study phase was conducted in the same countries (Finland, n=1021; Germany, n=604; France, n=600; Greece, n=300). The objective of the quantitative phase was to operationalize the factors consumers brought up in the explorative study and the issues emerged from stakeholder study and generate more general understanding on the studied object.
The study results revealed that consumers identify many benefits in TTIs. The respondents were in all countries quite strongly of the opinion that TTIs would provide extra confidence that the retailer has taken good care of the cold chain. Most consumers also considered TTIs useful in checking that the products have not been exposed long time to critical temperatures while transported from grocery store to home, and in identifying products from the fridge/ freezer that have not been used on time. Moreover, TTIs seemed to contribute to consumers’ perceptions on product quality as many respondents considered products with TTI of higher quality than the ones without. Thus, TTIs were perceived useful which manifested in respondents’ positive attitudes towards TTIs in TTI-related statements, and in assessing how using TTIs would affect the image of retailers and food industry. Finally, using TTI would also increase consumer trust in the food chain.
Also actual TTI applications (TTI-1 and TTI-2) were studied in focus group discussions. Out of the studied applications, consumers associated clear design and helpful written instructions with TTI-1. However, TTI-1 failed to meet consumers’ expectations as the color change is intermediate leaving consumers in doubt if the product is still good enough quality in case the color has only minor changes. The similar lacks on TTI-2 design were found. In addition to those, consumers did not appreciate the color choices of TTI-2 mainly because of the low contrast between the two extremes leaving consumers with confusion how the TTI-2 message should be interpreted. The final and perhaps the most relevant flaw which applied to both applications was related to trust. One of the main advantages of TTI was considered to be its capability to increase consumers trust in food chain and especially in retailers. However, the label mechanism of both applications undermined this advantage in consumers’ minds as they considered (the spontaneous concern emerged in all countries) that retailers would manipulate the TTI (i.e. change the “bad” TTI with a “good” one). If possible from technological perspective, the TTI should thus include some kind of seal or it should be integrated part of the packaging to capture the value for consumers.
To conclude, the consumer study results showed that TTI technology is promising from consumers’ perspective. It is found useful, it is a good tool to monitor both external and consumers own cold chain and it was found to build trust in food chain in each country. Despite the promising results, there is still need for further work before the technology is ready to be implemented. First of all, consumers need education. Both qualitative and quantitative study showed that consumers have difficulties to understand how to adapt TTI message to their own behaviour. This is caused by the intermediate colours and also other freshness labels which might be in conflict with TTI. As food is a sensitive matter to consumers, such confusion is neither needed nor wanted. Secondly, the current TTI applications are (from consumers’ opinion) vulnerable to manipulation as they considered that retailers would anyway change the “bad TTIs” to “good TTIs”. The reason for this was that TTIs are not integrated in packaging. As TTI in general was appreciated as a technology which allows consumers to monitor food chain, this feature of the technology undermines the added value almost completely. Thus, a solution to this problem should be considered carefully.

Task 4.4: Summary of socio-economical impact of the smart labels application
The objective of task 4.4 was to summarize the results obtained in the previous tasks of the WP4 and generate recommendations for further TTI technology development and TTI implementation. To reach the goal the task had two sub-objectives: 1) To summarize the main benefits and risks of TTIs for different stakeholders identified in T4.1-4.3 and 2) to organize a workshop for IQ-Freshlabel project partners in which the benefits and risks were presented, discussed and recommendations for further work developed.
Based on the discussions held in workshop, five general recommendations related to technology development and four recommendations to TTI implementation were generated. These recommendations reflect the risks and benefit that food chain hold in TTI technology. The following recommendations were given related to technology development.

1) Clarify TTI design
Chain stakeholders’ acceptance study and consumer study clearly revealed that to be of use the TTI message has to be very easy to interpret. For example, non-intuitive colouring and intermediate colours were questioned. The consortium agrees that the TTI message should be very clear to the users leaving no possibility to misunderstand it. Guidelines on how to interpret the TTI message should be adapted to the label and the colours used should be clear. The message should be unambiguous (“throw away”, “heat correctly”, etc.). If the label does not meet these expectations it causes stress and discomfort more than benefits. As one concrete example an indicator with instructions appearing upon colour change was suggested. Providing guidelines to consumers was considered very important and also feasible suggesting that it could and should be done relatively fast and easy.

2) Integrate TTI in packaging
The consumer study (T4.3) revealed the “sticker-like” nature of TTIs to raise doubts among consumers. Consumers were afraid that the labels could be manipulated or removed by manufacturers or retailers. Thus, the possibility to integrate TTIs to packaging should be examined. This was considered somewhat important and also feasible.

3) Reduce price
The risks the manufacturers and retailers identified in TTIs outscored the benefits. For example, manufacturers considered the price of TTIs to be a barrier for the implementation. In the focus group discussions the consumers considered the price of food quite high already at the moment. They did not express enthusiasm in paying more for the products with TTIs. Thus, the costs the TTI use causes should be minimised. This recommendation was considered important, but not very feasible. However, for instance printing the indicator directly on the packaging material would considerably decrease the price and is a feasible approach.

4) Develop TTIs which are able to record time-temperature history
It became evident especially concerning manufacturers and retailers that the TTIs incapability to record time-temperature history was a significant defect. Even if the label indicates the cold chain to be breached it would be impossible to locate the spot in the cold chain where the breach occurred. This is a defect since it would not be possible to know the stakeholder liable for the damage. Thus, the development of a TTI that could record time-temperature history would be a great advantage. However, this was not considered very feasible option.

5) Strive to replace expiry date with TTI
It was discussed in the workshop that the current expiry dates of the food products are based on manufacturers’ studies about the length of the period the product can be stored before eating. An important aspect defining the length of the period is storage temperature. The storage temperature in manufacturers’ own facilities can be well estimated but the case is different when it comes to the rest of the cold chain and especially to consumers’ fridges and refrigerators. TTIs would solve this problem by taking into account both storage time and temperature. Thus, it could be reasoned to replace current sell-by dates with TTIs. This recommendation was considered feasible but not that important anyway from technology development perspective.

In addition, four recommendations to TTI implementation were generated based on the discussions held in the workshop.

1) Try to involve legislation
Based on the cost benefit –analysis performed in task 4.1 and chain’s stakeholders’ acceptance study in task 4.2 it seems that TTI implementation would probably generate more risks than benefits to manufacturers and retailers. This was also somewhat agreed in the workshop discussions. One recommendation crystallises the matter “Retailers and Producers will not voluntarily adapt TTIs as it will reduce waste with consumers and bring down their sales and create transparency. Without legislation TTIs will not be adopted in the food market”. Thus, one possible way to facilitate TTI implementation could be to influence legislation to make the TTI use mandatory. However, the justification for imperative legislation remained somewhat unclear in the discussions. Waste reduction was suggested as justification, but this benefit is not undisputable as there is no confirmed evidence on TTIs capability to reduce waste. As a matter a fact, consumer study indicated that some consumers considered TTIs more likely to increase waste than reduce it. In general the recommendation was considered very important but at the same time difficult to execute in practise.

2) Make the indicators simple and easy
If the TTI message is not unambiguous the technology causes more stress and confusion than benefits for consumers. Thus, the indicators should be elaborated as easy as possible. This subject was discussed in relation to technology development, but it has also marketing meaning as at the current technology stage, the implementation would require heavy education and promotion to ensure that consumers would accept and understand the technology. This would naturally require vast resources which probably are not available at the moment. The recommendation in general was considered moderately important and feasible.

3) Educate and generate demand

Manufacturers and retailers
Based on task 4.2 it seems that manufacturers and retailers are aware of the existence and understand the basic function of TTIs. However, they themselves state that they would need further education. For instance manufacturers see their own abilities limited for implementing TTIs. Education would be needed about the purpose of TTI use, how to use them and how to interpret them.

Consumers
Consumers have at the moment limited knowledge on TTIs. The majority of the respondents in quantitative survey stated that they have never heard about TTIs. In general consumers clearly liked the concept of TTIs. However, it became evident in the focus group discussions that TTIs might cause stress among consumers if they were uncertain about the function of technology. The issue was also brought up in manufacturers’ and retailers’ interviews. They consider that the consumers might be confused for instance about the right interpretation between expiration date and TTI message in the situations where these two messages differ. If the consumers are not aware of the technology and the benefits they could gain, there cannot be demand from their side. So, the consumers should be educated about the function of TTIs and the benefits of the technology.

It was discussed in the workshop and also mentioned in one recommendation that the knowledge about product freshness is very different when it comes to food experts or consumers. For experts the product freshness is very rich in nuances, but for consumers it is probably black-and-white. Consumers do not necessarily comprehend that even if the products are safe to eat they might have big differences in quality. The differences in conceptions make the communication about TTI benefits to consumers difficult. If the knowledge on product freshness among consumers could be enhanced it would make the benefits more understandable and thus it might increase the demand for TTIs.

In general, education was considered very important (esp. consumer education) and also quite feasible.

4) Analyse thoroughly the risks foreseen in consumer studies
The consumer study performed in task 4.3 offers knowledge about the consumers’ views on TTIs in four countries representing different parts of Europe. This information would be wise to take advantage of when planning future actions regarding TTI implementation. Thus, for instance publishing the study findings would make the benefits of TTIs (which truly emerged especially in terms of the TTI concept) more visible for also stakeholders which might assist them to understand that consumers attitude towards the technology might be positive if the design-related lacks in actual applications have been taken care of. In general, this recommendation was considered very important but not as feasible. Still many of the risks foreseen in the consumer study and potential contingency plans were discussed already in the workshop.

Potential Impact:
Impact related to the Oxygen sensor development for MAP food
The temperature conditions during the chain and the gas atmosphere are one of the most important factors affecting the food safety and quality and so of greatest concern of every food business operator. In the frame of WP2 two kind of innovative labels were developed to control the oxygen and temperature conditions during the chain. Also a Meat spoilage predictor and a TTI predictor were developed and a concept how the labels can be integrated in different companies. The developed labels and the models represent an approach to improve the quality and safety of perishable foodstuffs, while reducing food waste in the chains at the same time.
By implementing these technologies processing companies can increase their competitiveness against other competitors. Also the retailer can increase their sell volume since food quality parameter and sustainability aspects are of increasing importance also at consumer level (see also WP 4). Through the reduction of food waste, a sustainable food production is strengthened, as not only the rejection of products is reduced, but also valuable resources in the production of the food products are saved (energy, water, packaging material, food and water for the rearing of animals,...) (see also WP 4).
The developed software system can be used for the application of intelligent labels in the overall quality management system of companies and also for internal training activities in the companies. Thus the software delivers an important contribution to increase quality and safety. The software will be published in the next two month on the webpage. The general idea of this software was also discussed with the BFR in Germany during a “Predictive Modeling Workshop” which took part in Berlin in Sep. 2013. The BFR will also support the use of predictive models in the industry during the next years. Thus the whole food supply chain will benefit from the results of the IQ-FRESHLABEL project.
In the project the research was focusing on the poultry chain, but the generated know-how can easily adapted to other products and other chains (see also task. 2.6). Thus the SME-AGs can provide their members with the generated results and training materials and thus with a competitive advantage, especially against their large international competitors in the future. The participating SMES in WP2 and also other companies which have been interviewed are convinced that the increased transparency of a product’s quality and safety is expected to increase the trust of the consumer in meat products. The consortium is convinced that the new technologies and novel products will be successful on the market.
Also the participating R&T in WP 2 had a huge advantage by participating in the in project. All of them could increase and deepen their knowledge in the above described topics and could strengthen their cooperation with people from the industry. Further on the contact between other research institutes worldwide have be intensified through the project. Also new project proposal will be prepared with ideas which have been generated in the frame of the Freshlabel project. Several bachelor, master and diploma thesis have been finalized in the frame of the WP2. Results of the project were also presented in the master courses at the UBO. Several publications are in preparation resp. are already submitted.

Impact related to critical TTIs development for frozen food
Periodic consumer complaints and regulatory actions confirm to the processors that the product that reaches the consumer is often not of the same quality as the one leaving their manufacturing facilities. It has been reported that a substantial portion of frozen products are exposed, throughout the distribution, including retail and domestic storage, to effective temperatures that deviate significantly from the recommended range. The deviations in the domestic storage remain more pronounced, with recorded temperatures as high as -5°C, in certain cases. Temperature data from recent surveys showed that, despite the good practices and monitoring and control efforts, significant temperature fluctuations are observed during distribution, retail and domestic storage. More specifically, 40% of the total time of the profile temperatures of frozen fish products are over the recommended temperature, varying between -16 and -12°C (Source: European Cold Chain Database-FRISBEE project, http://www.frisbee-project.eu/coldchaindb.html). A TTI based system could lead to realistic control of the cold chain, optimization of stock rotation and reduction of waste and efficient shelf life management. Based on reliable models of the shelf life and the kinetics both of the product and the TTI response, the effect of temperature can be monitored, and quantitatively translated to food quality, from production to the point of consumption. This could increase consumer confidence in the frozen food supply by strengthening the scientific and technological basis for ensuring complete traceability along the entire food chain.

Socio-economic Impact
Potential impact to consumers
TTIs hold benefits for consumers. The consumer study revealed many benefits which could be considered to assist consumers’ food consumption behavior and food handling if TTIs were to be used in products. First of all, TTI technology hold potential to increase the transparency of food chain in the consumers’ eyes. The consumer study participants were quite strongly of the opinion that TTIs would provide extra confidence that especially the retailer has taken good care of the cold chain. Further, TTIs could have impact on consumers’ food handling. For instance, most of the consumers considered TTIs useful in checking that the products have not been exposed long time to critical temperatures while transported from grocery store to home, and in identifying products from the fridge/ freezer that have not been used on time. Quite many respondents also thought in all countries, that products with TTI would be of higher quality than the ones without. TTIs were further found especially useful for sensitive food products such as fresh and frozen meat-, fish- and poultry products.

Potential impact to food industry and retailers
Based on the WP4 results there seem to be many benefits for food industry and retailers in using TTIs. Including TTIs in products would be beneficial, as all the TTI related factors (improved quality, guarantee of safety and freshness) are important to the consumers when choosing packed fish/ meat products in all the studied countries. TTIs could also provide the retailers with a competitive advantage, as the majority of respondents in all countries would prefer to buy at retailer shops that have integrated TTIs.
In general, using TTIs would improve the image of both the retailers and food industry as the food industry and retailers most probably would be seen as more trustworthy and more transparent. For instance, the majority of consumer study participants in all countries think that retailers and food industry that use TTIs would be closer, more honest and more competent than operators not using TTIs. Taken into consideration the fact that there was some distrust towards the retailers and food industry regarding the safety and quality of products in all countries (especially in Greece), the TTIs would be an interesting tool for these operators in improving their image. Considering the many comments on doubt of reliability, it should, though, be taken into consideration that TTIs should be included in packaging in a way that they cannot be replaced/ manipulated, and consumers should be informed about the irreversible nature of the labeling.

Potential impact to society
One reason to implement TTI technology is its considered potential to reduce food waste. The cost-benefit analysis conducted within this project provided estimations that TTIs could have a significant role in reducing food waste in different parts of food chain. Even if the reality would not completely match with the assumptions made in the CBA, still the volumes of poultry chain alone in Europe are massive. Cutting even some per cents of the food waste in the chain by TTIs would lead to significant benefits from sustainability perspective due to the multiplicative effects in saving water and reducing emissions.
The food waste issue was studied in consumer study as well. The consumers’ own opinions on TTI’s effect on waste were found to be a bit conflicted. In Greece the respondents were quite strongly of the opinion that TTI would lead to less food waste, as it would be possible to estimate the usability of products also after the expiration date. Also in other countries the majority of respondents were of this opinion. However, in all countries the respondents seemed to have some difficulties in predicting how TTIs would affect own behaviour. Many respondents agreed with the statement “With TTI there would be more waste, as I would throw away products that have not yet expired (by date) but are shown by TTI to be exposed to high temperatures”. Some confusion in the matter is quite understandable, as many were left uncertain on how fast the TTIs react to temperature changes, and of course the respondents cannot know for sure, how well these matters have been taken care of by the farmers, food industries and retailers until now. In Greece the respondents were quite eager to throw away and not consume products with both expired best before- and expiration date. In other countries especially the products with expired expiration date are thrown away by many. Incorporating the TTI marking to products would allow consumers more easily assess the products’ safety and quality also after the best before- or expiration date has expired. If consumers would with TTI get confirmation of the quality and safety of the product even after the best before- or expiration date has expired, this could lead to less food waste.

List of Websites:

www.iq-freshlabel.eu