How About Tattoos Instead of Sticker Labels on your Fruit?

Produce Labeled with Laser Tattoo

photo: Laser Food

There’s nothing worse than biting into a luscious red apple and after a few bites discovering you’ve chewed that little sticker you didn’t notice before. As you attempt to dislodge fragments of paper and glue from the far reaches your molars, you think to yourself that there has to be a better solution to mark produce.

And indeed there is. The EU is now allowing the use of Laser technology in the service of produce labeling. No more wasteful use of paper and glues. No more “surprises” in the mouth. How exactly does this work?

A laser is used to etch whatever design or information is required on the skin of the fruit or vegetable. There’s actually no burning of the surface of the fruit. Instead, a microscopically small area of fruit skin is removed. It discolors rather than burns the product without touching or harming cells in the skin surface. In order for the etching to be more prominently visible, iron oxide or hydroxide is used.

The information etched on the fruit can be brand, PLU code, farm and harvest information, as well as QR codes.

The laser etching technology has been developed by a Spanish Company called Laser Food, and is starting to gain traction in Spain and northern Europe. Probably not a fit for blueberries, but would make sense on fist sized produce and larger sizes. Florida Citrus growers have been testing the laser system, which has been submitted for FDA approval.

Coming soon to a farmer’s market near you?

  • Alyssa B

    I was at the grocery store yesterday and noticed that every piece of organic produce was labeled with a big orange sticker that said “organic.”
    I thought this was kind of contradictory, all those stickers seemed pretty wasteful. I was just wondering to myself if there was another way to label produce. Thanks!

  • BrianNZ

    Alyssa, I’ve had the same “what the heck?” reaction to all the stickers, but realize that they have no better way to differentiate between organic/non-organic. For some of their veges, they’ve resorted to packing them in styrofoam trays and plastic-wrap…far worse! (I have sent them an email asking them to be less wasteful.) So, perhaps this tattoo thing could make us both happy? :)

  • AnnMarie Forbes Jones

    No no no no no ! Absolutely not… USDA quit printing on our meat r/t concerns over chemicals in the ink… how could this be any different..???? I won’t buy EB eggs for the same reason despite their claims of being organic for the same reason. What’s in that ink???

    • Sharkfin

      Its a laser etching. There is no ink. Lasers etch by burning.

      • AnnMarie Forbes Jones

        I’m sorry … on whose word would I believe that , what reputable agency that polices our food supply would I randomly cast my trust onto? Why can’t they just leave our food unadulterated. Not all of us can afford organic. While some of us grow organic even that is costly. Okay laser.. that protective skin is there for a reason, did you know that a meningococcal bacterium can hide behind the period at the end of sentence? Men keep trying to “improve” our food sources , to our detriment.

        • John

          Could you please explain how it can be costly to grow organic. A package of organic seeds costs around 2.00, you put it in the ground, water it and harvest it. You can’t grow food any cheaper.

          • AnnMarie Forbes Jones

            Maybe where you buy your seed.We bought our organic corn from High Mowing @$7.49 a packet of 75 seeds each. Because of our late, cold , damp Spring we got ours in late is coming up spotty at best. We are not guaranteed perfect weather.

  • Kittaly

    I’ve got to agree whole-heatedly with AnnMarie. I would NEVER buy food that was etched with anything. I can peel a sticker and wash glue. I don’t care how safe they it might be it leaves too much open for god knows what to grow in there.

  • abraxasMN

    There is NOTHING worse? :) OK you have had a good life.

  • Know Food Now

    I love this idea. Maybe we can all compose attractive fruit bowls again. The sticker on is unsightly, the sticker off leaves a scar, so a laser etching can only be better.

  • Michelle

    I think this is a wonderful solution! Not only does this eliminate the wasteful use of the paper, ink, and glue needed to make the stickers; but it also eliminates the traces of toxic glue that is always left behind even after the sticker is peeled off.

    As a result, we have a solution that is not only good for the environment, as it eliminates waste, but is also far better health-wise for people too!

    I, for one, am entirely in support of this idea!

  • Jamie

    I love this idea! I work at a natural foods store, and it really upsets me that the organic produce, which is supposed to be the most environmentally-conscious option ((besides growing your own produce) usually has gratuitous amounts of packaging and labeling! And aside from that, it’s a hassel to look up items that have missing stickers. I can see that some commenters are concerned, but this method utilizes the produces’ inherent properties and metabolic processes as a means of labeling it for the consumer , and that’s quite impressive to me. Not all new technologies need to be feared and labeled satanic witchcraft, sometimes innovation is something to revel in. I think this is an incredible innovation, and I hope that it enters the US market in the near future.

  • Hello

    Hmm. I don’t know… Next thing you know, a bunch of chemicals will be added to the tattoo to preserve the fruit and at taste and completely ruin the goodness of fruit.