Ever wondered if your Florida grapefruit is really from Florida? After all, how can you trust those flimsy little stickers. Well, researchers have a solution to this important problem: lasers!
Laser labeling of fruit and vegetables is a new, patented technology in which a low-energy carbon dioxide laser beam is used to label, or “etch” information on produce, thereby eliminating the need for common sticker-type labels.
In the United States, the FDA is in the final stages of approving this “tamper-free labeling technology.” Laser-etching of fruits and veggies is already underway in New Zealand, Australia, and Pacific Rim countries, and it has been been approved in many other regions.
There’s actually some science behind laser-etching. A recent study in the journal HortTechnology concluded “the fruit quality remains high as the invasion of the epidermis does not incite decay [or] provide an avenue for food pathogens,” as the laser essentially cauterizes the peel of the fruit. “The technology will offer the grapefruit industry a safe alternative to adhesive sticker labeling without enhancing decay susceptibility.” Thank goodness for that.
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Image: Agricultural Research Service and University of Florida