Girl, 11, invents a bowl which tells you when food is about to go off

Never throw out brown bananas again! Schoolgirl, 11, invents a fruit bowl which sounds an ALARM when its contents are about to go off

  • Rumaan Malik, from Grasby, Lincs, invented a device called the Alarm Cup
  • Fruit bowl lights up and makes a sound when its contents are about to expire
  • Schoolgirl has won Ocado’s Food Waste Challenge and it will now go on show 

An 11-year-old schoolgirl has invented a fruit bowl fitted with an alarm that sounds when its contents are about to go off.

Rumaan Malik, from Grasby, Lincolnshire, is the brains behind the Alarm Cup gadget – a fruit bowl with a difference that lets its owner know when the fruit or other food inside has two days left before it expires.

The Grasby All Saints Primary School pupil has now won Ocado’s Food Waste Challenge, a competition which asked schoolchildren across the country to produce ideas for a gadget to help prevent food waste.

Rumaan Malik, from Grasby, Lincolnshire, has invented a fruit bowl that alerts its owner when its contents are due to go off by lighting up and making a sound

The bowl is just a prototype for now but it could be developed further to help prevent food waste in people’s homes

How does the Alarm Cup work?

The alarm cup sounds a helpful reminder two days before any fruit placed in the cup reaches its expiry date, just like an alarm clock.

The bowl has a small touch screen where you can program in the expiry dates of the produce.

The cup is also fitted with a removable tray, which has holes in it so the fruit can breathe and will last longer

The bowl is a prototype, which if developed fully would be paired with the Ocado app to suggest recipes which use up the expiring fruit in the cup so it does not go to waste. For example, a recipe which could be shared would be banana bread.

Fruit is one of the UK’s most wasted food groups, according to Ocado, with 1.3 million apples thrown away every year as part of £13 billion worth of binned food annually in the country.

However Rumaan hopes her device can help stop some of the waste.

She said: ‘I started thinking about what we throw away at home and what would help us stop this happening. 

‘Apples are my favourite fruit, but they were always going all soft when my mum left them out in the fruit bowl and forgot about them. 

‘That’s when I thought of my idea and started drawing The Alarm Cup. I thought that we all need something that could help us use up our fruit by sounding an alarm before it goes off, instead of letting it end up in the bin.’ 

The gadget works by placing fruit or other food into the bowl. 

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The bowl allows you to program in the fruit’s expiry date so that it will alert you when it’s about to go off, much like an alarm clock (pictured: Rumaan with her gadget)

The device will then light up and sound a helpful reminder to let its owner know that the contents of the bowl are two days away from expiring.

The nifty bowl also pairs with Ocado’s app, which will share recipes with users that could inspire them to make a dish to use up leftover fruit, such as apple crumble or banana bread. 

Rumaan won the competition by submitting a design but she’s now had a working prototype developed (pictured with the bowl before it was glazed)

Her invention beat 500 entries submitted after workshops in schools across the country by Little Inventors, a group which aims to inspire children to invent. 

Rumaan said: ‘I couldn’t believe it when my teacher told me I had won! Things like this never happen to me.’

She initially submitted a drawing of the product, but now a working prototype has been made which will go on show at the Little Inventors stand at the Great Exhibition of the North this summer from now until Sunday September 9. 

Helen White, special advisor on household food waste at food waste charity WRAP, who helped judge the entries, said: ‘We were particularly impressed by Rumaan’s invention as it addresses one of the key reasons food ends up in the bin: not using it in time. 

‘Even if we understand the difference between date labels, we can still struggle to use what we’ve bought. 

‘The Alarm Cup challenges this by reminding us when our food needs using up, and nudges us towards adopting positive behaviours that can help to reduce the 5 million tonnes of good food wasted from our homes every year.’  

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