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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kellogg's 'laser-etched' cornflakes

Laser etched cornflakes - Kellogg's / TwitPic
This is the image Kellogg's posted online as an example of laser-etched food. Picture: Kellogg's / TwitPic

IS this a marketing stunt, an elaborate hoax or a bizarre attempt by one of the world's biggest food producers to protect an iconic breakfast cereal from imitators?

The British PR office for Kellogg's claimed on its Twitter feed today that it has succeeded in etching its brand into individual corn flakes so they stand out against any copies.

Related story UPDATE: Kellogg's confirms laser-etched cornflakes are real - but not in Australia »

"Now you'll always be able to tell your Corn Flakes from your corn fakes!" Kellogg's UK announced on Twitter, with a link to an image of branded cereal.


Kellogg's claims the image, which looks like a badly doctored photograph, shows the result of a laser process that directs a concentrated beam of light onto the flake, using mirrors to control the burn.

The UK's Daily Telegraph today quoted a food technologist named as Helen Lyons as saying: "We want shoppers to be under absolutely no illusion that Kellogg's does not make cereal for anyone else.

"We've established that it is possible to apply a logo or image onto food, now we need to see if there is a way of repeating it on large quantities of our cereal," Ms Lyons said.

"We're constantly looking at new ways to reaffirm this and giving our golden flakes of corn an official stamp of approval could be the answer."

Laser-etching has been used to customise gadgets, create artworks and – in one dangerous experiment – tattoo a teenager's arm.

In 2005, Time magazine recognised Greg Drouillard for his invention of fruit tattoos, which was being tested at the time.

Mr Drouillard, a researcher for Sunkist Growers, says the laser essentially cauterises the burn on the food to stop it from spoiling.