Advice on Time-Temperature Indicators on Food Products

The Office for Risk Assessment & Research (BuRO) advises that conditions be imposed on the use of a time-temperature indicator (TTI) on food products to ensure food safety. A TTI measures the temperature of an individual package from the time of packaging. This makes date marking more flexible than a best before date or a use-by date.

BuRO further advises to also impose the conditions that EFSA has already established and to require the producer to record the moment in the production process when the TTI is applied to the packaging. In addition, BuRO recommends that this be investigated in a field trial according to the regular regulatory approval procedure for TTIs as active and intelligent food contact materials. A pilot would have to meet basic conditions, such as the safety of TTI as a tool and of each TTI-food combination, to control chemical and microbiological risks. Subsequently, a temporary exemption is needed and it is important to investigate consumer behavior as well.


One of the goals of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) is to achieve a halving of food waste by 2030 compared to the situation in 2015. One of the possibilities that LNV is exploring is the use of a time-temperature indicator (TTI) on food products. A TTI could be more reliable than using a labeled date that applies to an entire batch.

A Dutch supermarket chain has submitted an application to investigate, through a field trial, whether TTIs can be used in the Netherlands for the perishable foods 'fresh chicken meat' and 'fresh fish or fresh fish fillet'. The supermarket is cooperating with a university in this regard. For this practical trial, a temporary exemption is needed from the Minister for Medical Care and Sport (MZS). The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) has asked the Office for Risk Assessment & Research (BuRO) for a risk assessment to substantiate the exemption.

With the above, BuRO has answered the following questions of VWS:

  1. What food safety risks are associated with the use of time-temperature indicators (TTIs) in food products?
  2. If a pilot is conducted on the use of TTIs in food, what preconditions should such a pilot meet to control the risks?