An end to pesky stickers?
Consumers tired of picking those tiny stickers off pears, peaches,
and plums can take heart: Fruit with edible "tattoos" is on
the way. A new technology uses lasers to etch fruits and vegetables with
their names, identifying numbers, countries of origin, and other
information. The stickerless technology is part of the produce
industry's effort to identify and track everything Americans eat.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the industry has been encouraged to develop
"track and trace" technology to allow protection of the food
supply at various stages of distribution. The tattoos will also help
consumers and cashiers distinguish among the different varieties of
fruits and vegetables. "When there was only one kind of apple at
the super market, it was easy," says Don Harris, a vice president
at Wild Oats, a national market chain. "But now at some
supermarkets, you will have 12 different kinds of apples."
Will some consumers shy away from tattooed produce for aesthetic reasons? "Anything that permanently changes the fruit is going to
be a hard sell," says Harris, "especially to buyers of organic