Color-changing foods: cook everything to perfection with this new probably-non-toxic color-changing food dye!


Many foods require a certain minimum amount of cooking time, yet there isn’t always an obvious visual indicator of “done”-ness.

The Issue:

As a result of the lack of a visual indicator, a chef must laboriously inspect food by (for example) cutting into it, poking it with a fork, or tasting it. These time-consuming tasks reduce our overall national productivity!


It should be feasible to put color-changing dyes into various foods that will indicate that a certain temperature has been reached for a certain amount of time (Fig 1).

Fig. 1: Here, we see the new “cooking indicator” pasta (in this case, spaghetti), which starts a normal color (blue arrow) and changes red when it is perfectly cooked (green arrow). What degree of cooking is “perfect“ is left as an exercise for the reader.


This could be especially useful for steak: if the steak changed from red (raw) to green (rare) to blue (medium rare) to purple (medium), etc…, then even the most inept cook could make a proper steak every time. And the person who requested the steak would instantly know that the steak was cooked to their specifications. For a table that ordered more than one steak, no longer would the waiter need to remember which was which!

PROS: Should decrease the number of under-cooked foods, thus reducing food poisoning cases.

CONS: May lead to a tyrannical regime in which eating al dente pasta is taboo (similar to cannibalism or eating household pets), simply due to the lack of color change in the pasta. Also, if the “properly cooked” color is always the same (e.g., suppose it is green), then people might start to assume that every green object in the world is edible.