Until recently, a food label being ‘bumpy’ was by no means a good thing. However, multinational dairy company Arla is trialling a food label with a difference – one that develops bumps when food deteriorates and becomes inedible. These labels are designed to stop food from being thrown away prematurely. In 2015, UK households discarded over seven million tonnes of food – which cost each household roughly £500 per year. The Food Standards Agency has estimated that more than 50% of this wasted food could have been saved.
Requirements for food labels
In UK law, all food products have to display 'use by' or 'best before' dates. Also, based on the category of packaged food, other details have to be included – like the country it originates from. Once Brexit eventually takes form, the government has indicated that new regulations will eventually apply – to which food label printing businesses will need to adapt. As one example, packaged meat labels will have to include details explaining whether animals are stunned prior to being slaughtered.
With stricter rules and new food labelling laws on the horizon, the importance of clear food labelling is difficult to overstate. As well as being easy to read, food labels should be durable and last a long time.
The Mimica Touch Label
Mimica is a young company that is currently testing an innovative food label called the Touch Label. This sophisticated product becomes bumpy when packaged food biodegrades. It responds to temperature changes and to changes in the condition of packaged food. These changes cause layers of gelatine to break down, which gives the initially smooth label ‘bumps’.
Mimica says that the Touch Label will show people whether packaged food is safe to consume, if it has passed its 'use by' date. Purportedly, this product is more accurate than an estimated date, because it reacts directly to the food's condition. This will minimise the damage that food waste causes to the industry and the environment. Also, it will ensure that households lose less money on wasted food each year.
The Mimica Touch Label consists of a compact tray that has a lid including the bumpy label. When there is a change to the temperature, the label responds by physically indicating the state of the packaged food. According to Mimica, because the Touch Label is only a small lidded tray, a standard label printing machine can be used to print it.
The bumpy label trial by Arla Foods
Arla Foods is a group of dairy producers and farmers that sell their foods to wholesalers and supermarkets nationwide. At the moment, they are collaborating with Mimica to test the Touch Labels. They want to see how customers react to them, before deciding whether to conduct any further tests.
Touch Labels remain in the testing phase and are yet to reach the market. Nonetheless, if the trials organised by Arla and Mimica produce encouraging results, this ground-breaking labelling method could become the industry standard.
Focus Label has a proven track record of helping manufacturers to choose machines that give them outstanding labelling results, and that have the capacity to respond to new substrates and printing requirements. We can install the machines and even train your staff, to ensure you get the optimum benefit from the technology. Contact us today to request a free quote.
Image source: Pixabay