By Mike Pomranz
Updated July 24, 2015
© Cultura Creative (RF) / Alamy

3D-printed food gets plenty of hype, but 3D-printing technology could affect the food industry in other ways besides just spitting out cool-shaped chocolates. Engineers at UC Berkeley, together with researchers at Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University, are using the ever-expanding technology to print electrical components – an advancement they showed off by demonstrating how these printed electronics could be used inside the cap of a milk carton to wirelessly let consumers know if the milk inside has gone bad.

The engineers fitted the “smart caps” with tiny printed circuitry that, when the carton is flipped over, fill with milk. The components can then to detect and broadcast the milk’s electrical signals – including whether or not it is spoiled or spoiling. “This 3D-printing technology could eventually make electronic circuits cheap enough to be added to packaging to provide food safety alerts for consumers,” said Liwei Lin, a professor of mechanical engineering and co-director of the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center. “You could imagine a scenario where you can use your cellphone to check the freshness of food while it’s still on the store shelves.”

Yes, a future where our smartphones can tell us how fresh milk is. Looks like milk selfies aren’t the height of dairy smartphone technology after all. What do you mean there’s no such thing as milk selfies?