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System solution uses intelligent temperature-sensitive ink

Hungry? A pizza from the freezer requires little effort and is ready to eat fast. Unfortunately, you can’t tell just by looking at the pizza – or other frozen food – whether or not it is still safe to eat. BASF has developed a solution to this issue: “Manufacturers, retailers and consumers will soon be able to tell at a glance whether ice cream, pizza, fish or any other products were kept constantly deep-frozen or should rather be discarded because the cold chain was interrupted significantly,” explains Martin Angehrn, Project Manager, BASF Future Business GmbH, and adds: “And they’ll know this more reliably than by looking at the best before date.” OnVuTM ICE is the name of the time temperature indicator that BASF is now launching especially for frozen products.

OnVu™ as a temperature memory for chilled products

OnVu™ time temperature indicators are intelligent labels on the food packaging that monitor the cold chain for chilled and deep-frozen food, making the current state of the product visible: the label changes color depending on temperature. The darker its color, the better the cold chain has been maintained. “OnVu™ labels, which sort of memorize temperature, help to keep chilled and frozen products fresh,” says Angehrn. Applied to the packaging OnVu™ monitors the food on its way from the manufacturer to the retailer. In addition OnVu™ is a useful marketing tool: retailers can use it to help customers to maintain their own cold chain for chilled and frozen foods.

Just a printed thermometer symbol

OnVu™ is actually cost-effective and easy to use: a temperature-sensitive ink is used to print a thermometer symbol on the product label or even, in the packaging line, directly on the packaging. The indicator at the center of the thermometer is activated for use by means of UV light, which causes it to turn a dark blue color. From this moment on the indicator monitors the cold chain. Acting as a reference the outer portion of the thermometer is a lighter shade of blue. The cold chain monitor works simply: as long as the center is darker than or the same as the reference color, there has not been any significant interruption in the cold chain – the best before date shown on the packaging remains valid. As time goes by and/or if the cold chain is broken, the color pales. The speed of the color change process and the temperatures that trigger it can be customized individually.

Strong increase in temperature causes color to change fast

On frozen foods, OnVu™ stays dark blue as long as the temperature is kept continually below minus 18 degrees Celsius. The higher the temperature rises, the faster the color changes. This is suitable for foods that keep for a long time when frozen to –18 degrees. “When the temperature rises to cause thawing, these foods should be consumed immediately,” Angehrn explains and adds: “Our OnVu™ indicator shows this reliably by changing color.”

About BASF Future Business GmbH

BASF Future Business GmbH, a 100 percent subsidiary of BASF SE, was founded in April 2001. It aims to open up business areas with above-average growth rates that lie outside BASF’s current activities. The company focuses on chemistry-based new materials, technologies and system solutions. BASF Future Business GmbH commissions research from BASF’s R&D units and cooperates with startup companies, industrial partners, universities and potential customers. Further activities include acquisition of direct stakes, initiation of joint ventures and provision of venture capital via the subsidiary BASF Venture Capital GmbH. Further information on BASF Future Business is available on the Internet at .

About BASF

BASF is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics and performance products to agricultural products, fine chemicals and oil and gas. As a reliable partner BASF creates chemistry to help its customers in virtually all industries to be more successful. With its high-value products and intelligent solutions, BASF plays an important role in finding answers to global challenges such as climate protection, energy efficiency, nutrition and mobility. BASF posted sales of more than €50 billion in 2009 and had approximately 105,000 employees as of the end of the year.