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Low-Energy Laser Etching May Replace Fruit Labels 475

MikeChino writes "How many times have you bit into a piece of fruit only to find that you're also chomping on a sticker label? The small sticky labels have long been the bane of waste-conscious fruit and vegetable eaters, but that might all change thanks to new technology that uses a low-energy carbon dioxide laser beam to etch information directly onto produce. No more peeling those annoying labels! So far the technology is being used on a number of fruits and vegetables in New Zealand, Australia, and Pacific Rim countries, and it's currently going through the final stages of review by the FDA. Once the technology is approved in the US, researchers from the University of Florida and the USDA Agricultural Research Service hope that it will be used in Florida's massive grapefruit industry."


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Low-Energy Laser Etching May Replace Fruit Labels

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  • Barcodes (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 05, 2009 @09:10AM (#29993642)

    Does this mean we can finally replace PLUs with UPCs? I'd no longer have to wait in the self-checkout line behind the guy who's looking for a picture of an endive.

  • by FlyingBishop ( 1293238 ) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @09:11AM (#29993656)

    I compost all of my fruit, and this will be great, as fruit like bananas and oranges will no longer generate any waste I can't compost.

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @09:20AM (#29993732)

    The process must be approved by the FDA. You can be sure they will ask all those questions and some you haven't thought of.

    I'm always very leery of that sort of assurance because I've heard very similar things from my own MP (I'm in the UK) and IME it invariably means "I have so much blind faith in the system that I'm not even going to take your query seriously enough to forward it on to the relevant people".

    And it later transpires that the relevant people had not thought about it...

  • by jcochran ( 309950 ) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @10:06AM (#29994246)

    And did you not actually read the article? That issue was addressed within it.

    In recent tests, the research team found that laser-labeled Ruby Red grapefruits showed no increase in decay or water loss compared to their sticker-labeled counterparts. The grapefruit also remained free of pathogens-meaning the laser-etching doesn't provide a new entry point for germs.

    But then again, this is slashdot so, who am I to expect people to actually read the article prior to commenting on it?

  • by Anonymusing ( 1450747 ) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @10:32AM (#29994540)

    "How many times have you bit into a piece of fruit only to find that you're also chomping on a sticker label?"

    Erm, never? Because I always wash my fruits (as in apples, pears) first before eating them?

    Even stupider, they're talking about laser etching on citrus fruit. You peel those fruits before you eat them (well, most people do). There are no stickers inside the fruit.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @10:50AM (#29994774) Homepage

    Laser etching can be art, too. Once they get the machines installed you can bet they'll start doing fancy designs - Halloween pumpkins with the faces etched on, special limited edition designs on all your favorite Xmas fruits (collect them all!), Chinese fruits with fortunes etched on them, the only limit is your imagination!!

  • by ICLKennyG ( 899257 ) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @11:25AM (#29995174)
    I don't really care about this from the tinfoil hat perspective. If it's safe, and doesn't harm the fruit than I too will welcome our laser etched overlords with open arms.

    Don't for one minute, however, think that this is a greener solution. Last I checked, lasers take energy, and lots of it, to make their innards work. I have never bit into a sticker, nor do I really care about the minuscule space they take up in landfills or however you chose to dispose of them. This is a counter productive solution from a green perspective. And really, where outside of a grocery store produce section do you see more than the occasional fruit label laying on the ground?

    Also if you were really friendly composting tree huggers, you wouldn't be buying your produce from a megamart, you'd be eating locally grown produce you purchase directly from the farmer (sans sticker).
  • Re:Dude (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Thursday November 05, 2009 @11:45AM (#29995412)

    I've noticed that being technologically savvy or skeptical about one thing doesn't always translate well into other fields. I've seen people say that naturopathy is nonsense because natural doesn't mean beneficial, then almost in the same sentence praise organic food because it is natural and therefore better. Look at Bill Maher criticize creationism as unscientific, then spew fearmongering about medical science and support magic based alternative medicines. People, in general, don't seem to be good at applying one standard set of reasoning to everything they encounter. I'm kinda surprised when I see someone on this site exhibit technophobia or praise pseudoscience (like as seen in today's dowsing article), but at the same time I also expect it. Food is one area where this appears to be especially true. Expect this laser etching thing to cause cancer (or some other disease of the day). Well, it won't really cause cancer, but some forwarded email will claim it, then some luddite quack will provide supporting evidence for it (based on a study with a sample size of 3), and we'll have another 'controversial' technique that 'they' are using to impurify our precious bodily fluids.

The other line moves faster.