US20030236219A1 - Edible product markers and methods for making and using edible product markers - Google Patents

Edible product markers and methods for making and using edible product markers Download PDF

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Publication number
US20030236219A1
US20030236219A1 US10/176,114 US17611402A US2003236219A1 US 20030236219 A1 US20030236219 A1 US 20030236219A1 US 17611402 A US17611402 A US 17611402A US 2003236219 A1 US2003236219 A1 US 2003236219A1
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Prior art keywords
edible product
markers
filament
edible
material
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Abandoned
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US10/176,114
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Stephen Nightingale
N. Tangen
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Burntside Partners Inc
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Burntside Partners Inc
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Priority to US10/176,114 priority Critical patent/US20030236219A1/en
Assigned to BURNTSIDE PARTNERS, INC. reassignment BURNTSIDE PARTNERS, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: NIGHTINGALE, STEPHEN D., TANGEN, N. MICHAEL
Priority claimed from NZ53772903A external-priority patent/NZ537729A/en
Publication of US20030236219A1 publication Critical patent/US20030236219A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09FDISPLAYING; ADVERTISING; SIGNS; LABELS OR NAME-PLATES; SEALS
    • G09F3/00Labels, tag tickets, or similar identification or indication means; Seals; Postage or like stamps
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A23FOODS OR FOODSTUFFS; THEIR TREATMENT, NOT COVERED BY OTHER CLASSES
    • A23LFOODS, FOODSTUFFS, OR NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, NOT COVERED BY SUBCLASSES A23B - A23J; THEIR PREPARATION OR TREATMENT, e.g. COOKING, MODIFICATION OF NUTRITIVE QUALITIES, PHYSICAL TREATMENT; PRESERVATION OF FOODS OR FOODSTUFFS, IN GENERAL
    • A23L29/00Foods or foodstuffs containing additives; Preparation or treatment thereof
    • A23L29/20Foods or foodstuffs containing additives; Preparation or treatment thereof containing gelling or thickening agents
    • A23L29/206Foods or foodstuffs containing additives; Preparation or treatment thereof containing gelling or thickening agents of vegetable origin
    • A23L29/262Cellulose; Derivatives thereof, e.g. ethers
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A23FOODS OR FOODSTUFFS; THEIR TREATMENT, NOT COVERED BY OTHER CLASSES
    • A23PSHAPING OR WORKING OF FOODSTUFFS, NOT FULLY COVERED BY A SINGLE OTHER SUBCLASS
    • A23P20/00Coating of foodstuffs; Coatings therefor; Making laminated, multi-layered, stuffed or hollow foodstuffs
    • A23P20/10Coating with edible coatings, e.g. with oils or fats
    • A23P20/15Apparatus or processes for coating with liquid or semi-liquid products
    • A23P20/17Apparatus or processes for coating with liquid or semi-liquid products by dipping in a bath
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A23FOODS OR FOODSTUFFS; THEIR TREATMENT, NOT COVERED BY OTHER CLASSES
    • A23PSHAPING OR WORKING OF FOODSTUFFS, NOT FULLY COVERED BY A SINGLE OTHER SUBCLASS
    • A23P20/00Coating of foodstuffs; Coatings therefor; Making laminated, multi-layered, stuffed or hollow foodstuffs
    • A23P20/20Making of laminated, multi-layered, stuffed or hollow foodstuffs, e.g. by wrapping in preformed edible dough sheets or in edible food containers
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A23FOODS OR FOODSTUFFS; THEIR TREATMENT, NOT COVERED BY OTHER CLASSES
    • A23PSHAPING OR WORKING OF FOODSTUFFS, NOT FULLY COVERED BY A SINGLE OTHER SUBCLASS
    • A23P30/00Shaping or working of foodstuffs characterised by the process or apparatus
    • A23P30/10Moulding
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06KRECOGNITION OF DATA; PRESENTATION OF DATA; RECORD CARRIERS; HANDLING RECORD CARRIERS
    • G06K19/00Record carriers for use with machines and with at least a part designed to carry digital markings
    • G06K19/06Record carriers for use with machines and with at least a part designed to carry digital markings characterised by the kind of the digital marking, e.g. shape, nature, code
    • G06K19/06009Record carriers for use with machines and with at least a part designed to carry digital markings characterised by the kind of the digital marking, e.g. shape, nature, code with optically detectable marking
    • G06K19/06046Constructional details
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10STECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10S493/00Manufacturing container or tube from paper; or other manufacturing from a sheet or web
    • Y10S493/961Tag, marker, or label
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T428/00Stock material or miscellaneous articles
    • Y10T428/29Coated or structually defined flake, particle, cell, strand, strand portion, rod, filament, macroscopic fiber or mass thereof
    • Y10T428/2913Rod, strand, filament or fiber
    • Y10T428/2933Coated or with bond, impregnation or core
    • Y10T428/2935Discontinuous or tubular or cellular core
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T428/00Stock material or miscellaneous articles
    • Y10T428/29Coated or structually defined flake, particle, cell, strand, strand portion, rod, filament, macroscopic fiber or mass thereof
    • Y10T428/2913Rod, strand, filament or fiber
    • Y10T428/2973Particular cross section
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T428/00Stock material or miscellaneous articles
    • Y10T428/29Coated or structually defined flake, particle, cell, strand, strand portion, rod, filament, macroscopic fiber or mass thereof
    • Y10T428/2913Rod, strand, filament or fiber
    • Y10T428/2973Particular cross section
    • Y10T428/2975Tubular or cellular

Abstract

The present invention is directed to edible product markers and methods for making and using such markers, including processes for manufacturing, embedding, applying, and retrieving edible product markers. The edible product markets are made of digestible or biologically inert materials that are scored or shaped while being extruded into filaments, and embedded in a vehicle, also made of digestible or biologically inert materials, that facilitates delivery of a predetermined quantity of these markers on to a food or other edible material. The markers are made by spooling and embedding the extruded filaments, and cutting the mass in which these filaments are embedded into cross sections. The markers can be retrieved by washing an aliquot of the marked substance in soap or a detergent, extracting the markers into the soap or detergent, and placing the markers on a microscope slide, where they can be identified by the scores and shapes on cross-sectional view using either white or polarized light.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION2
  • 1. Field of the Invention [0001]
  • The present invention relates to markers for foods or other edible materials and to processes making and using such markers. [0002]
  • 2. Background of the Related Art [0003]
  • There is demand for meat and agricultural products with specifically defined bur visually undetectable characteristics. Examples include meat from range fed animals and organically grown vegetables. Premiums are paid for such products. These premiums have in turn created demand for safe, reliable, easily read, and inexpensive markers that can independently and securely verify the origin and provenance of such products. [0004]
  • The spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy by contaminated animal protein supplements from the United Kingdom to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia has led consumers and regulators throughout the world to demand more stringent proof of the origin and provenance of animal as well as human foods. Consumer diffidence about and allergies to food made from genetically modified organisms has extended this demand to all products made from food materials. Careful packaging and continuous surveillance during transit and storage may partially address this demand, but neither totally excludes the possibility that the product within the package has been adulterated, either accidentally or deliberately. [0005]
  • The demand for markers extends beyond food to other edible products, such as pharmaceuticals, including vitamins, nutritional supplements and drugs. The worldwide production of and market for pharmaceuticals has created numerous opportunities for product diversion and product tampering. Such opportunities exist for both raw materials and finished products. Finally, fear of terrorism, domestic and foreign, has become yet another source of demand for greater security throughout the food and edible product chains. [0006]
  • Relevant factors to consider in developing such markers include biocompatibility, information storage capacity, physical size and manipulability. Since these markers would be used on food and other edible products, they must be made of a substances that are either digestible or biologically inert. Additionally, the markers must be able to carry sufficient code to achieve desired characteristics, such as to distinguish the marked product from that of competitors or imitators and to prevent counterfeiting. The physical size of the markers must be sufficiently small such as not to change the specifications of the marked products and yet be sufficiently large so that the smallest informative dimension can be reproducibly identified. Finally, the markers must be able to be manipulated effectively to mark the desired product, for instance to avoid or minimize such concerns as electrostatics, surface tension, air currents and the like. Presently, no product in commerce meets these requirements. [0007]
  • Prior art processes of marking pharmaceuticals and food products typically involve disposing a dye onto the surface of a product. For instance, U.S. Pat. No. 6,299,374 to Naor, et al., discloses capillary feed marking instruments capable of producing edible colored indicia directly on food substrates and medicaments. Naor also disclose methods of using these instruments to mark food substrates and medicaments. For instance, in the method of Naor, solid medicaments are marked with a liquid, non-toxic, detectable marking substance which differs from the medicament in color. [0008]
  • A prior art process for tracking medicaments includes adding a non-toxic substance to the medicament and detecting the ingested substance in the blood or other body fluids following ingestion of the medicament. The non-toxic substance may be detected by chemical, photoelectric or immunological methods. See, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 6,068,981. [0009]
  • Additionally, the prior art discloses submicrometer, striped, cylindrically shaped metallic bar codes useful in performing biological assays. For instance, monolayers that resist nonspecific binding by proteins may be formed on the surface of the metallic bar codes, enabling the bar codes to serve as supports for bioassays. Additionally, by using differently striped metallic bar codes having different monolayers adsorbed on the surface thereof, multiple assays can be performed simultaneously. [0010]
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • An object of the present invention is to solve at least the problems and/or disadvantages described above and to provide at least the advantages described hereinafter. [0011]
  • Another object of the present invention is to provide a safe, reliable, easily read, and inexpensive marker for food and other edible products that can independently and securely verify information about the marked product, such as the origin and provenance thereof Advantages of the markers we describe below include biocompatibility, information storage capacity, range of sizes and manipulability. Our markers can be made from any biocompatible material that will retain its shape after it has been extruded into a filament. Our markers are made by spooling and embedding these extruded filaments, and cutting the mass in which the spooled filaments are embedded into thin sections. [0012]
  • Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention is to provide edible product markers, as well as methods of making and using edible product markers. Other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be set forth in the detailed description of preferred embodiments that follows and, in part, will be apparent from the description or may be learned by practice of the invention. These objects and advantages of the invention will be realized and attained by the compositions and methods particularly pointed out in the written description and claims hereof [0013]
  • In accordance with these and other objects, a first embodiment of the present invention is directed to an article of manufacture for marking an edible product including a wound spool of at least one filament comprising a first biocompatible material wrapped around a spool of a second biocompatible material; and a third biocompatible material embedding the wound spool, wherein the at least one filament includes at the periphery thereof at least one orientation groove and at least one code groove. [0014]
  • A second preferred embodiment of the present invention is directed to a method for making an edible product marker comprising: (a) extruding at least one filament comprising a first biocompatible material; (b) winding at least one filament around a spool of a second biocompatible material to form a wound spool; (c) embedding the wound spool in a third biocompatible material; and (d) slicing the embedded, wound spool to form sections of the wound spool including edible product markers, wherein at least one filament includes at the periphery thereof at least one orientation groove and at least one code groove and the edible product markers correspond in shape to the cross sectional shape of at least one filament. [0015]
  • A third preferred embodiment of the present invention is directed to a method for marking an edible product comprising: (a) extruding at least one filament comprising a first biocompatible material; (b) winding at least one filament around a spool of a second biocompatible material to form a wound spool; (c) embedding the wound spool in a third biocompatible material; (d) slicing the embedded, wound spool to form sections of the wound spool including edible product markers; and (e) applying the edible product markers to an edible product, wherein at least one filament includes at the periphery thereof at least one orientation groove and at least one code groove and the edible product markers correspond in shape to the cross sectional shape of at least one filament. [0016]
  • A fourth preferred embodiment of the present invention is directed to an edible product marker made by a method comprising: (a) extruding at least one filament comprising a first biocompatible material; (b) winding at least one filament around a spool of a second biocompatible material to form a wound spool; (c) embedding the wound spool in a third biocompatible material; (d) slicing the embedded, wound spool to form sections of the wound spool including edible product markers; and (e) releasing the edible product markers from the sections of the wound spool. [0017]
  • A fifth preferred embodiment of the present invention is directed to filament for making edible product markers comprising a filament made of a biocompatible material having an outer periphery, wherein the filament has at least one orientation groove and at least one code groove formed in the outer periphery thereof for at least a portion of the length of the filament. [0018]
  • A sixth preferred embodiment of the present invention is directed to a method for making a filament comprising extruding at least one biocompatible material through a sieve in a spinneret, wherein the extruded filament comprises at least one orientation groove and at least one code groove in the outer periphery thereof along at least a portion of the length of the filament and, further, wherein the sieve includes at least one opening corresponding in shape to the cross sectional shape of the filament. [0019]
  • Additional advantages, objects and feature of the invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows and in part will become apparent to those having ordinary skill in the art upon examination of the following or may be learned from practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and attained as particularly pointed out in the appended claims. [0020]
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • The invention will be described in detail with reference to the following drawings in which like reference numerals refer to like elements wherein: [0021]
  • FIG. 1 is a plan view and side view of an edible product marker made in accordance with the methods of the present invention; [0022]
  • FIG. 2 is a spinneret and sieve used to form filaments in accordance with the methods of the present invention; [0023]
  • FIG. 3 shows sections of a wound spool including edible product markers made according to the methods of the present invention; and [0024]
  • FIG. 4 shows the appearance of markers made in accordance with the present invention as the filaments wound and embedded on the spool are sliced at increasingly oblique angles to the long axis thereof[0025]
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • 1. Definitions [0026]
  • As used herein, the term “edible product” is intended to mean any product, such as foodstuffs and pharmaceutical products, intended to be ingested or administered to an animal, such as a human. Examples of such foodstuffs include, but are not limited to (a) products or compositions containing one or more plant or animal tissue, enzyme, protein or any other component derived from a plant or an animal, including, but not limited to dairy products, such as milk and cheese; produce, such as vegetables, fruits and grains; meats, such as, beef, lamb, pork, goat and poultry, e.g., chicken and turkey; breads; and cereals; (b) products or compositions having a nutritional effect, such as vitamins, mineral supplements and the like; and (c) mixtures of enzymes which are used in preparing an edible product. [0027]
  • Such pharmaceutical products include, but are not limited to, any pharmaceutical product for delivering a pharmacologically active agent to a desired site of action in an animal, including, but not limited to, buccal, sublingual, nasal, oral, topical, rectal and parenteral administration forms. Examples include, but are not limited to tablets, dragees, capsules, syrups, caplets, aqueous or oil suspensions, suppositories, sprays, aerosols and powders. [0028]
  • Additionally, as used herein, the term “edible product” is intended to include packaged and unpackaged edible products as defined hereinabove. [0029]
  • As used herein the term “biocompatible material” is intended to mean any material, both natural and synthetic, that is compatible with living tissue, such as digestible or biologically inert materials. [0030]
  • 2. Particularly Preferred Embodiments [0031]
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a preferred embodiment of a marker made in accordance with the present invention. The edible product marker [0032] 1, has along its circumference one orientation groove 2 and seven code grooves 3. The marker is approximately 0.250 millimeter in diameter and approximately 0.005 millimeter in thickness. Along its circumference are seven symmetric code grooves 3 in the shape of a half circles with a diameters of approximately 0.050 millimeters. Each groove is separated by a length of approximately 0.050 millimeters along the circumference of the marker. The first and the last of these grooves are separated by approximately 0.043 millimeters from the orientation groove. The orientation groove is in the shape of a right triangle, again approximately 0.050 millimeters along the circumference, but in this case approximately 0.025 millimeters along one edge extending into the disc, and approximately 0.042 millimeters along the remaining edge that projects into the disc. The pattern on the circumference of the disc will ordinarily be read beginning with the code groove adjacent to the hypotenuse of the orientation groove, but can be read in the opposite direction or beginning with a different code groove.
  • A preferred embodiment of the present invention is directed to a method for making an edible product marker comprising: (a) extruding at least one filament of a first biocompatible material; (b) winding said at least one filament around a spool of a second biocompatible material to form a wound spool; (c) embedding said wound spool in a third biocompatible material; and (d) slicing said embedded, wound spool to form sections of said wound spool comprising edible product markers, wherein said at least one filament comprises at the periphery thereof at least one orientation groove and at least one code groove and said edible product markers correspond in shape to the cross sectional shape of said at least one filament. [0033]
  • The filaments used in practicing the methods of the present invention are manufactured by extruding a biocompatible material through a replaceable sieve in a spinneret. The sieve includes at least one opening corresponding in cross section to the outer periphery of the extruded filament and produces an extruded filament having at least one orientation groove and at least one code groove in the outer periphery of the filament. By varying the opening shapes, filaments having a varying arrangements, e.g., numbers and shapes, of orientation and code grooves can be produced. Additionally, a plurality of differently shaped filaments can be produced simultaneously. [0034]
  • A typical spinneret [0035] 5 and sieve 6 are shown in FIG. 2. The sieves will be cast so that they can make as many different markers simultaneously as the available extrusion and spooling machinery will allow. For instance, according to certain preferred embodiments of the present invention, each orifice will be shaped in one of the 128 possible arrangements for markers including at least one orientation groove and up to seven code grooves. To make these orifices, a mold will be made in the specific shape of each of the 128 images, and the molds will be used create the orifices of the shape of these images in the sieve when the sieve is cast from molten metal.
  • The extruded filaments containing at least one orientation groove and at least one code groove are spooled for later use. To make a marker, a length of the filament is wound around a spool. The spool may be grooved to facilitate uniform winding of the filament around the spool. The spool in then embedded in a biocompatible material and the embedded mass is cut, thereby forming edible product markers. In certain preferred embodiments of the present invention, about 35 meters of filament about 0.025 mm in diameter are transferred to a spool with a radius of approximately one centimeter and a length along its axis of approximately three centimeters. Preferably, the spool is made of the same material that used to embed the filament and spool after the filament has been wound around the spool. [0036]
  • In certain preferred embodiments of the present invention, the spool is generally cylindrical in shape. According to the methods of the present invention, however, the spool may be of any shape suitable for winding a filament according to the methods of the present invention, including, but not limited to triangular, hexagonal, square and the like. Similarly, in certain preferred embodiments of the present invention, the filament is generally cylindrical in shape. According to the methods of the present invention, however, the filament may be of any cross-sectional shape, including, but not limited to trianglular, hexagonal, square and the like. [0037]
  • Embedding of the wound spool can be accomplished by any suitable method. Examples include, but are not limited to, immersing the spool in the embedding material while the filament is being wound around the spool, immersing the wound spool in a pool of the embedding material, spraying the filament with the embedding material while the filament is being wrapped around the spool and spraying the wound spool with the embedding material. [0038]
  • The embedding substance may be either the same as or different than the biocompatible material forming the spool. In certain preferred embodiments of the present invention, the embedding substance is selected from the group consisting of paraffin, beeswax, honey, gelatin, starches, sugars, glycerol, polyethylene glycol, vegetable oil, animal fat, and combinations thereof More preferably, the embedding substance comprises paraffin mixed with beeswax. Even more preferably, the spool and the embedding substance both comprise paraffin mixed with beeswax. A paraffin/beeswax mixture, of the same composition as that used by pathologists to embed human or animal tissue for sectioning and microscopic examination, is a particularly preferred embedding material. Choice of a particular embedding agent will be determined in part by its ability to promote adherence of a particular marker to a particular marked substance. [0039]
  • Scored filaments made of cellulose fiber extracted from grains, embedded in honey, and cut into thin sections are a preferable embodiment of the present invention for marking cereals, breads and the like. Gelatin is a preferred embedding agent for marking meats. [0040]
  • The embedding material should be of sufficient hardness and sufficient plasticity at some temperature within the tolerance of the material used make the filament and the material used to make the spool to withstand being cut into small sections, for example, about 0.005 millimeter sections. For instance, this is the requirement of embedding substances that pathologists routinely use to embed human or other tissues before they are cut into 0.005 millimeter sections and placed on glass slides, where they are subsequently stained and read under a microscope. Cutting may be carried by any conventional means, such as by use of a microtome. [0041]
  • When 0.005 millimeter sections are cut by the microtome, approximately an equal depth of the sectioned material may be lost, so the process is calculated to yield approximately 100 sections per millimeter, 1000 sections per centimeter, and so on. [0042]
  • For instance, for filament of approximately 0.250 micrometers, approximately two revolutions of the filament will be spooled per millimeter, and approximately 60 revolutions per layer on a spool three centimeters long. If there are 75 layers of filament separated by approximately 200 micrometers per layer, the total diameter of the spool would be approximately 4 centimeters, the average diameter of a layer would be approximately 2.5 centimeters, and a three centimeter long, 75 layer spool would have approximately 35.325 meters of filament wrapped around it. [0043]
  • A coronal section through the spool parallel to the long axis of the spool) will cut each fiber twice. Since there are 60 revolutions of the fiber per layer and 75 layers, there will be 4500 fibers cut twice, thereby producing 9000 embedded markers per cut section. The spool will be approximately 4 centimeters thick (1 centimeter for the spool itself, and an additional 3 centimeters because the 75 layers, approximately 1.5 centimeters thick, will project out from both ends of the diameter of the spool. Since approximately 4000 cut sections will be produced by coronally sectioning the spool, each spool will yield 36,000,000 markers. Seven such spools, with the same marker or different markers, could easily mark the 210,000,000 kernels of corn from a field that produces approximately 3000 bushels of corn at about 70,000 kernels per bushel. [0044]
  • A coronal section [0045] 7 cut through the diameter of a spool 8 is illustrated in FIG. 3. For instance, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention wherein the filament has a diameter of about 0.250 millimeters, since there will be approximately four circular markers, each 0.250 millimeters in diameter, in each square millimeter of space, the markers will occupy approximately 49% of the space of the section, excluding the core and the portion of the embedding material outside the layers of filament. Also, since the sections will reveal the shape of the filament approximately every 8 centimeters, quality control of the extrusion process can be accomplished by examining only a few sections.
  • Distortion of the shape of the marker will occur as the sections are cut less and less perpendicular to the long axis [0046] 9 of the filament from which the markers are made. These distortions are illustrated in FIG. 4. In each section, some of the markers may too distorted to be read. However, as FIG. 4 illustrates, sections up to seventy-five degrees or greater oblique to the long axis of the filament from which the markers are made should be interpretable.
  • In practicing the methods of the present invention, the markers can be applied by any suitable method of adhering the markers to the product to be marked. Preferably, he markers are applied by dissolving the biocompatible materials of the spool and the embedding material, the second and third biocompatible materials, respectively, in a carrier liquid thereby releasing the edible product markers into the carrier liquid and spraying the carrier material containing the markers onto the edible product. In another preferable embodiment of the present invention, the markers are applied by heating the cut sections of the embedded, wound spool under conditions effective to melt the second and third biocompatible materials and dispersing the markers onto the edible product. The markers may be dispersed by a jet of air of by suspending the markers in a carrier liquid and spraying the liquid containing the markers onto the edible product to be marked. Alternatively, in certain preferred embodiments of the present invention, cut sections of the embedded, wound spool are freeze fractured and then dispersed in a liquid carrier or jet of air onto the edible product to be marked. [0047]
  • For instance, in a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the markers are applied by dissolving a volume of these markers no more than {fraction (1/1000)} of the volume of the substance to be marked in a carrier liquid. In the preferred embodiment of this invention, the carrier liquid is vegetable oil, and the markers will be applied by spraying the carrier liquid containing the markers onto the substance to be marked. [0048]
  • According to the present invention, the filament includes at least one biocompatible material. The biocompatible material can be either synthetic or natural and may comprise any biocompatible material capable of being extruded into a filament having a plurality of grooves in its periphery according to the methods of the present invention. Illustrative examples of synthetic materials include, but are not limited to, polylactate, polyglycolate and copolymers thereof Cellulose, including microcrystalline cellulose, starch and silk are non-limiting examples of natural biocompatible materials according to preferred embodiments of the present invention. Additionally, in certain preferred embodiments of the present invention, the filament includes at mixture of at least two biocompatible materials. [0049]
  • Cellulose, a natural polymer of glucose, is a particularly preferred biocompatible material for the filament. Cellulose fibers of the size and tolerance required for this application have been commercially produced for many years. Cellulose fibers polarize light; this will facilitate their identification in a microscopic field. Silk, a natural protein, is another preferred material for the filament. [0050]
  • For instance, in certain preferred embodiment of the present invention, the filaments may be triangular, square, hexagonal, or any shape suitable for a particular intended use, in addition to circular. The code grooves may also be of any of these shapes, or combinations of these shapes, and any shape may occur at any location on the disc. Additionally, the code grooves may be symmetric or asymmetric. The orientation groove need not be triangular, but is preferably asymmetric. [0051]
  • According to the present invention, the circumference of the marker may be any dimension suited for an particular use. Preferably, the circumference or largest internal dimension of the marker is from about 0.1 to about 1.0 millimeters, and the thickness is preferably from about 0.005 to about 0.5 millimeters. In preferred embodiments of the present invention, the grooves vary in size from approximately 0.020 millimeters to approximately 0.200 millimeters. [0052]
  • For instance, a square marker approximately 0.7 milimeters on each side could fit sixteen 0.020 code grooves and one orientation groove on each of its four sides, for a total of 64 code grooves per marker. If four of the grooves were used to determine the order in which each of sixteen markers were to be read, the total information capacity of the system would be 2[0053] 960 bits of information.
  • To remove the markers from the marked substance, an aliquot of the marked substance can simply be immersed in a liquid, for instance water or another solvent. Preferably, the liquid is water and contains at least one detergent; the markers would be extracted into the detergent, just as detergent in a washing machine extracts grass stains from clothing. Low-speed centrifugation could be used to increase the efficiency or speed of partitioning, if necessary. The liquid into which the marker partitions can then easily be placed on a glass microscope slide and identified. For these reasons, the edible markers according to the present invention are manipulable from the moment they are manufactured until the moment they are read. [0054]
  • The markers can be retrieved whenever desired by, for instance, washing an aliquot of the marked substance with soap or a detergent, extracting the markers into the soap or detergent, and placing the extracted markers on a microscope slide, where they can be identified using either white or polarized light. [0055]
  • In certain preferred embodiments of the present invention, the markers are read by taking an aliquot no greater than {fraction (1/1000)} of the substance that was marked and washing this aliquot in a detergent solution. The detergent solution can be allowed to settle so that layers can settle on the top and bottom of the solution, or this process can be accelerated if desired by centrifugation. The top or bottom of the solution, whichever contains the markers, will be placed on a microscope slide, and the markers will be examined under a microscope. Use of optical character recognition computer hardware and software to identify or verify the codes on these markers would be possible but not necessary. [0056]
  • Each marker of the preferred embodiment of the invention we describe carries 2[0057] 7, or 128, bits of information in 7 symmetric grooves. An eighth asymmetric groove orients the reading frame. By using more than one marker, the information carrying capacity increases substantially. If two markers are used, and one of the seven grooves is used to indicate which marker is read first, 212, or 4096 bits of information can be carried. If four markers are used, and two of the seven grooves are used to indicate the order in which the markers are read, 220, or 1,048,576 bits of information can be carried. If three of the seven grooves are used to indicate the reading order, 232 bits can be carried; if four, 248, and if five, 264. Alternately, a slightly larger marker that carried 11 symmetric grooves and one asymmetric groove to orient the reading frame could carry substantially more information, alone or in groups, although it would be slightly more difficult to read with only a microscope for assistance.
  • Since a complete code can be carried by more than one marker, different elements of the code during stages of the life cycle of the marked product can be carried, thereby providing a potential increase in the security of the code. [0058]
  • Markers according to the present invention preferably range in size from a maximum just below the minimum size detectable by the unaided eye to a minimum just above the minimum size detectable using a microscope with 400× magnification. [0059]
  • For instance, in certain preferred embodiments of the present invention, the maximum size of one of the markers would be a diameter or largest internal dimension of approximately 1.0 millimeter, a circumference if circular of 3.14 millimeters, an area if circular of approximately 0.78 millimeters[0060] 2, and a volume if circular and 0.5 milimeter deep of approximately 0.39 millimeters3. Since most organic materials have a specific gravity slightly greater than water, such a marker would weigh approximately 0.5 milligrams. In such an embodiment, there will be approximately 2,000 of these markers per gram. The size of the marker that is the preferred embodiment of the invention is approximately 0.250 millimeters in diameter and approximately 0.005 millimeters thick; it has a volume of approximately 0.0014 millimeters3, and a weight of approximately 0.002 milligrams. There will therefore be approximately 500,000 of these markers per gram.
  • Having now fully described this invention, it will be understood to those of ordinary skill in the art that the methods of the present invention can be carried out with a wide and equivalent range of conditions, formulations, and other parameters without departing from the scope of the invention or any embodiments thereof. [0061]
  • All patents and publications cited herein are hereby fully incorporated by reference in their entirety. The citation of any publication is for its disclosure prior to the filing date and should not be construed as an admission that such publication is prior art or that the present invention is not entitled to antedate such publication by virtue of prior invention. [0062]

Claims (24)

What is claimed is:
1. A filament for making edible product markers comprising:
a filament comprising a biocompatible material having an outer periphery, wherein said filament has at least one orientation groove and at least one code groove formed in said outer periphery thereof for at least a portion of the length of said filament.
2. An article of manufacture for marking an edible product comprising
(a) a wound spool comprising at least one filament according to claim 1 wrapped around a spool of a second biocompatible material; and
(b) a third biocompatible material embedding said wound spool, wherein said at least one filament comprises at the periphery thereof at least one orientation groove and at least one code groove.
3. The article according to claim 2, wherein said first biocompatible material is selected from the group consisting of cellulose and silk.
4. The article according to claim 2, wherein said second and third biocompatible materials are selected from the group consisting of paraffin, beeswax, honey, gelatin, starches, sugars, glycerol, polyethylene glycol, vegetable oil, animal fat and combinations thereof.
5. The article according to claim 2, wherein said second and third biocompatible materials comprise the same material.
6. The article according to claim 5, wherein said second and third biocompatible materials are selected from the group consisting of paraffin, beeswax, honey and combinations thereof.
7. The article according to claim 3, wherein said firs t biocompatible material is microcrystalline cellulose.
8. The article according to claim 2, wherein said second and third biocompatible materials comprise different materials.
9. The article according to claim 2, wherein said at least one filament comprises one orientation groove and seven code grooves.
10. A method for making an edible product market comprising:
(a) winding at least one filament according to claim 1 around a spool of a second biocompatible material to form a wound spool;
(b) embedding said wound spool in a third biocompatible material; and
(c) slicing said embedded, wound spool to form sections of said wound spool comprising edible product markets, wherein said at least one filament comprises at the periphery thereof at least one orientation groove and at least one code groove and said edible product markets correspond in shape to the cross sectional shape of said at least one filament.
11. The method according to claim 10, wherein said first biocompatible material is selected from the group consisting of cellulose and silk.
12. The method according to claim 11, wherein said first biocompatible material is microcrystalline cellulose.
13. The method according to claim 10, wherein said second and third biocompatible materials are selected from the group consisting of paraffin, beeswax, honey, gelatin, starches, sugars, glycerol, polyethylene glycol, vegetable oil, animal fat and combinations thereof.
14. A method for marking an edible product comprising:
applying at least one edible product marker made according to claim 10 to an edible product.
15. The method according to claim 14, wherein said at least one edible product marker is applied to said edible product by:
(i) dissolving said second and third biocompatible materials in a carrier liquid thereby releasing said edible product markers into said carrier liquid and spraying said carrier liquid containing said edible product markers onto said edible material;
(ii) heating said sections of said wound spool under conditions effective to melt said second and third biocompatible materials thereby releasing said edible product markers and dispersing the released edible product markers onto said edible material;
(iii) freeze fracturing said sections of said wound spool thereby releasing said edible product markers thereby dispersing the released edible product markers, suspending the released edible product markers in a carrier liquid and spraying the resultant suspension onto said edible material;
(iv) freeze fracturing said sections of said wound spool thereby releasing said edible product markers and dispersing the released edible product markers onto said edible material by a jet of air;
(v) heating said sections of said wound spool under conditions effective to melt said second and third biocompatible materials thereby releasing said edible product markers and dispersing the released edible product markers onto said edible material by a jet of air; or
(vi) heating said sections of said wound spool under conditions effective to melt said second and third biocompatible materials thereby releasing said edible product markers and dispersing the released edible product markers onto said edible material by suspending the released edible product markers in a carrier liquid and spraying the resultant suspension onto said edible material.
16. The method according to claim 15, wherein said carrier liquid is selected from the group consisting of vegetable oil, water and combinations thereof.
17. An edible product marker made according to the method of claim 10.
18. An edible product marker made by cutting said filament according to claim 1 into cross sections substantially perpendicular to the length thereof.
19. A method for making a filament according to claim 1 comprising extruding at least one biocompatible material through a sieve in a spinneret, wherein the extruded filament comprises at least one orientation groove and at least one code groove in the outer periphery thereof along at least a portion of the length of said filament and, further, wherein said sieve includes at least one opening corresponding in shape to the cross sectional shape of said extruded filament.
20. A method for tracking information about an edible product comprising:
(a) marking said edible product with at least one edible product marker according to the method of claim 14; and
(b) removing at least a portion of said at least one edible product marker a period of time after marking; and
(c) reading said removed at least one edible product marker.
21. The method according to claim 20, wherein said at least one edible product marker is removed by extracting said at least one marker into a liquid.
22. The method according to claim 21, wherein said liquid is water.
23. The method according to claim 22, wherein said water contains at least one detergent.
24. The method according to claim 20, wherein said at least one edible product marker is read using white or polarized light.
US10/176,114 2002-06-21 2002-06-21 Edible product markers and methods for making and using edible product markers Abandoned US20030236219A1 (en)

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US10/176,114 US20030236219A1 (en) 2002-06-21 2002-06-21 Edible product markers and methods for making and using edible product markers
US10/465,781 US6951687B2 (en) 2002-06-21 2003-06-20 Multifunctional product markers and methods for making and using the same
NZ53772903A NZ537729A (en) 2002-06-21 2003-06-23 Multi-functional product markers and methods for making and using the same
KR1020047020881A KR20050026411A (en) 2002-06-21 2003-06-23 Multi-functional product markers and methods for making and using the same
TW092116970A TWI326587B (en) 2002-06-21 2003-06-23 Multi-functional product markers and methods for making and using the same
EP03736685A EP1581792A4 (en) 2002-06-21 2003-06-23 Multi-functional product markers and methods for making and using the same
CA 2488797 CA2488797C (en) 2002-06-21 2003-06-23 Multi-functional product markers and methods for making and using the same
MXPA04012343A MXPA04012343A (en) 2002-06-21 2003-06-23 Multi-functional product markers and methods for making and using the same.
AU2003237213A AU2003237213B2 (en) 2002-06-21 2003-06-23 Multi-functional product markers and methods for making and using the same
JP2004515705A JP4398368B2 (en) 2002-06-21 2003-06-23 Multi-functional product markers and methods of making and using the the
PCT/US2003/016227 WO2004001375A2 (en) 2002-06-21 2003-06-23 Multi-functional product markers and methods for making and using the same
CNB038145502A CN100335691C (en) 2002-06-21 2003-06-23 Multifunctional product markers and methods for making and using the same
EA200500064A EA009689B1 (en) 2002-06-21 2003-06-23 Multifunction markers products and methods for their preparation and use
US11/041,260 US7163744B2 (en) 2002-06-21 2005-01-25 Multi-functional product markers and methods for making and using the same
US11/633,478 US20070098974A1 (en) 2002-06-21 2006-12-05 Multifunctional product markers and methods for making and using the same

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US6951687B2 (en) 2005-10-04
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CN100335691C (en) 2007-09-05

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