Sainsbury's Smart Label changes colour when ham goes off

Closed Up Image of Several Slices of Some Ham, Differential Focus

Sainsbury's is testing new product labels that change colour to show how fresh food is.

The supermarket has introduced the new label on its packets of seven ham slices across the UK and, says the Sun, is considering expanding it to other products too.

See also: Wait! Don't chuck it out! Best Before doesn't mean what you think

See also: Hundreds of pounds of food binned by Tesco on Christmas Eve

The Smart Fresh label gradually changes from yellow to purple after the pack has been opened, with the speed of the change dependent on the temperature of the fridge.

It means that customers won't be at risk of eating food that's gone off - or of throwing away perfectly good ham.

Recent figures from the government's waste advisory body Wrap show that around 350,000 tonnes of food, worth an estimated £1 billion, is thrown away every year unnecessarily. This figure was contributed to by UK households throwing away 1.9 millions slices of ham every day at a cost of over £170m every year - no wonder Sainsbury's chose to add smart labels to this product first!

"We know that changes to packs and labels, which give clarity around date and storage options, can have a dramatic effect on how much good food ends up in the bin so getting the right messages in place is critical," says Wrap director Steve Creed.

"Around 150,000 tonnes of household food waste was avoided in 2015 compared to 2007, as a result of technical changes to products, saving UK families around £400 million a year."

According to Wrap, you can't always rely on products' guidance on refrigeration. The temperatures used by many manufacturers to set their guidelines often don't reflect reality, it says.

Few people actually make sure their fridge is running at below five degrees - and doing so could add an average of three days to a product's life.

With food prices steadily climbing following the fall in the pound, it's never been more important to try and avoid waste.

Bear in mind that a 'best before' label means exactly that, and that a product won't become dangerous the minute that date is past. Indeed, most foods won't even taste any different at all.

As for 'sell by' dates, these are aimed at the stores themselves, and assume that the buyer will keep the product for a few days before it's eaten - so you should factor that in before you throw food away.

It's the 'use by' date that really matters, as after this date the safety of a particular food item can't be guaranteed.

World's most dangerous foods
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World's most dangerous foods
The pufferfish, known as fugu in Japan, is a dangerous delicacy more poisonous than cyanide. The smallest mistake in preparing it can leave you in hospital or kill you. The fish's toxic internal organs must be removed by a licensed chef before it can be served to diners.

This popular Jamaican fruit must be fully ripened and prepared properly as it can cause Jamaican vomiting sickness, leading to a coma or death. Unripe ackee contains hypoglycin, which can significantly reduce your blood sugar levels. The only edible part of ackee is the yellow arilli around the toxic black seeds.

While the mushrooms found in your local supermarket are harmless, varieties like the Death Cap, Destroying Angels and Deadly Webcap found in the wild are highly poisonous and capable of killing you. Just 1oz of the Death Cap, which resembles a pleasant white mushroom, can kill a human. Eating a fly agaric (pictured) is more likely to make you feel sick or delirious.

In South Korea, live octopus dish Sannakji is dismembered and drizzled with soy sauce before being eaten. As the small octopus sometimes doesn't have time to die, its legs can choke diners when the suckers get caught on their throat. There is an average of six deaths per year due to asphyxiation by octopus tentacles.
Looks like a regular root vegetable, right? Cassava, also known as manioc, is a tropical root crop which contains the potentially deadly cyanogenic glycoside when raw. It should be cooked thoroughly to remove this and any water used in the cooking discarded.

They may be tasty and good for your health but when raw cashews contain urushiol, a resin that can create significant skin rashes and be toxic when ingested. Fortunately, you're unlikely to find raw cashews in your local supermarket. Raw cashews are related to poison ivy and poison sumac but roasting them at high temperatures destroys the toxic oils.

Hakarl is fermented Greenland shark that is hung to dry for several months. The Icelandic dish can be fatal due to the shark species not having a urinary tract, which means potentially toxic substances being stored in its meat. Trimethylamine oxide in the meat makes it lethal if eaten fresh.
Unlike other clams that are safe to eat, blood clams can ingest viruses and bacteria such as hepatitis A, dysentery and typhoid. The clams that appear as though they are covered in blood are popular in Shanghai and usually eaten after a quick boil.

While maggots might be the worst thing to find in your food, in Italy, this traditional Sardinian cheese features the creepy crawlies to help ferment the sheep's milk cheese. Casu Marzu is illegal in the EU and can cause intestinal lesions, along with diarrhoea and vomiting. Photo by Shardan. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

The leaves of this popular pie ingredient are poisonous and can lead to breathing problems, seizures and even a coma. They are concentrated with oxalic acid which can be highly toxic. Always remember to cut off the leaves!
Visitors to Namibia will find African bullfrog on the menu in some places but the animal contains a range of substances that are lethal to humans. The young frogs that have not yet mated are the deadliest and can cause liver failure.

One of the riskiest items to place in your shopping basket is bean sprouts. When raw they can trigger food poisoning and in recent years have been linked to E.coli and Salmonella. They should be cooked thoroughly and avoided by children and the elderly.


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