This compostable packaging can tell you when your food is going bad

By Adele Peters

The “best-by” labels on food packaging don’t tell you if the food inside is safe to eat. Food often lasts days or even weeks longer, and these printed dates are one of many reasons that Americans waste as much as 40% of edible food. A label printed in a factory also can’t tell you if your online order has, say, been sitting outside in the sun too long while in transit. But what if packaging itself could change along with food?

In a lab at IndieBio, a biotech accelerator based in San Francisco, a team of entrepreneurs has spent the last several months developing new bio-based packaging that can respond to the environment and detect safety issues, but can also be safely composted in a backyard. “We’re incorporating sensing mechanisms into our materials that allow it to detect things like spoilage or even cold chain monitoring,” says Viirj Kan, CEO of the startup, called Primitives.

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