An Investigation into the Efficacy of a pH-Sensitive Material for Milk Spoilage Detection
Wang, Nam Sun
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Ambiguous expiration dates on milk cartons can mislead consumers into prematurely disposing unspoiled milk and potentially drinking spoiled milk. These misconceptions can lead to wastage that harms the environment, or potential discomfort and illness. The incorporation of pH-sensitive indicators into plastic milk cartons has the potential to replace stamped expiration dates as the traditional method of milk spoilage indication. We studied the correlation between bacteria count and milk pH to establish pH measurement as an effective indicator of milk quality. We then developed a method for incorporating bromothymol blue, a pH-sensitive color-changing dye, into a hydrogel made of polyacrylamide. This hydrogel can be added to existing packaging for milk or other products with detectable pH changes. Additionally, we conducted a consumer survey and analyzed current food packaging trends in the market. Our research indicates that a spoilage-indicating milk carton could have strong market potential as food industries increasingly adopt intelligent packaging designs.