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Meat crackers in blue, changing into violet and pink, could ultimately help fight global poverty and malnutrition
Imagine a nice, appetising, meat cracker. Now imagine it packaged, and with the meat filling in different colours.
This is one of the latest ideas from a University of Copenhagen PhD fellow and serial inventor, Bhaskar Mitra, a PhD fellow at the Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen.
The dipping sauce causes the cracker to change from blue to violet or pink
“The idea was to create a fortified meat cracker, with enriched nutritional quality, that would make meat consumption easier for older people and young school children. It would help combat diseases that result from protein deficiency. The colour was to create a fun-for-you product, just like in Japan where they have 15 different types of Kit Kat flavors”, says Bhaskar Mitra.
As a prolific inventor and idea-monger, Bhaskar Mitra has already come to the attention of the telecommunications group Telenor and the University Post for a smart phone cover that tests water for bugs.
“My background is in food science, and my vision is to coalesce ideas from different fields, and to solve broader problems by the use of interdisciplinary technology,” he says.
With the meat cracker, his approach is different than with the smart phone cover. “But helping mankind, and solving global health problems is the goal”, he says.
What catches your attention about this cracker is its colour: blue – achieved through the extraction of natural dye from an exotic flower. But the fun of this creation does not end there.
The cracker, apart from coming in 7 different flavors, also has the ability to change with vegetable based sauces. With one sauce, the cracker changes into violet or pink, and with the other sauce, it turns back into blue. As Bhaskar explains, “‘you blush when you brush’ – the biscuits change colour only in contact with the sauce.
Bhaskar Mitra has also developed a prototype for a new chemical sensor that could change the way groceries are normally packaged.
The meat crackers would come in plastic packaging with pores, allowing the sensor to track the moisture content and degradability. Depending on the levels, the sensor would show different colors that would indicate the shelf-life and perishability of the cracker. No more surprises with leftover soggy crackers.
His invention is not just a treat for the eyes and the taste buds. Bhaskar hopes to create a social phenomenon and trigger economic growth in developing countries such as India, his homeland. He wants to trigger social entrepreneurship by letting locals market and develop the product, rather than company manufacturers.
The crackers come in blue, violet and pink
“For quite some time, the problem that India has been facing is malnutrition, with no fortified food products and a low average income of no more than two dollars a day,” he says.
The meat cracker addresses these issues. Apart from its enriching nutritional quality, the product is made with waste materials such as leftover flour and parts of meat that are often discarded. This makes the manufacturing of the cracker feasible and sustainable, even in the poorest areas.
“The idea is to incorporate and develop synergy between local bakers, animal farmers and NGOs, with whom we can create a valued waste food product”.
Packaged foods like the one Bhaskar Mitra are advocating have not yet reached many parts of countries like India. Older people will find it easier through products such as this to find nourishment. They can get a meaty flavoured biscuit without the preparatory phase of cooking. As for the colours, it is the fun part that makes it easier to reach people.
“My grandfather used to love multi-coloured ice creams, This is just re-inforcing the trend,” Bhaskar says.
So what does it taste like?
“It tastes pretty much like pizza.”
Oven-baked biscuits, ready to eat
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