Food Safety Research and Product Development: Edible Microbial Tags for Food Traceability

Have you noticed QR codes on food products? QR stands for “quick response” initially developed as an alternative to barcodes. Recently at Cornell University, researchers found consumers will use QR codes with their phone to determine how long milk is drinkable, thereby reducing food waste. According to experts, milk is responsible for 65% of dairy product food waste, $6.4B annually.

QR codes also provide in-depth product information, offer coupons, recipes, collect customer feedback, and link to company website. This saves space on package labels while giving more information to consumers. Explore several food product QR codes this week at your supermarket and see what you think.


Friedlander, Blaine. Consumers Embrace Milk Carton QR Codes, May Cut Food Waste. Cornell Chronical. Cornell University. 6-1-22.

B. Susie Craig
Professor/Area Specialist – Food Safety and Health
Washington State University King County Extension