Adhesive labels that come into contact with dried or fresh foods are increasingly used in various segments of the food industry. These labels need to ensure the utmost safety for consumers’ health.
There is a certification protocol, which requires an accurate analysis of all the substances of the adhesive to ensure that they are fit for coming into contact with food.
What the law says
Following numerous tests, the regulation in force has divided direct food contact labels into five classes:
- – class A: direct contact with fruit with an edible or non-edible peel
- – class B: direct contact with dried foods
- – class C: direct contact with dried or moist but not fatty foods
- – class D: direct contact with fatty foods
- – class E: direct contact with fresh meat
The adhesives of the labels applied to foodstuffs must be safe and guarantee that no harmful material can migrate from the label to the food.
Therefore, it’s essential for the labelling process to comply with all the applicable healthcare standards and use only certified and guaranteed materials.
If you’re thinking about designing and manufacturing direct food contact labels, you need to take all these aspects into account.
Design and manufacturing
The certainty that no harmful substance can migrate from the label to the food also depends on the environmental conditions of the products, including humidity levels, temperature, and sunlight exposure.
Temperatures can change drastically when foods are transferred from refrigerated containers to room-temperature ones.
Pay special attention to changes in humidity levels, as the percentage of water on the surface of the wrapping can alter the products. Dry or moist conditions need to be assessed meticulously.
Even the different surface (smooth or rough) with which the label will be in contact is an important variable.
Resealable, single-portion, and ready-meal packaging is increasingly widespread, and food safety standards are particularly important in protecting consumers’ health.
Moreover, direct contact labels must be tamper-evident and ensure the traceability of the product in the supply chain.
Once you have taken all these conditions into account, you can start thinking about the aesthetic requirements of your labels.
You want your labels to be eye-catching, original, outstanding, simple and functional.
For foods that are moved from refrigerated environments to room temperature, you can use labels that have excellent bonding strength even at different temperatures. Remember that there are labels specifically made for direct contact with refrigerated foods.
Another important factor to consider is the visibility of the labelled product, which must not be hidden in any point. Mostly transparent labels are the answer.
The environmental aspect of all materials in direct food contact is also crucial. Sustainable, biodegradable and fully recyclable labels are currently the norm in the food industry.
Sometimes, labels are applied directly to fruit and vegetables – whether their peel is edible or not – which are often stored at room temperature. In these cases, you’ll need labels with high bonding strength because most fresh produce has high humidity levels, which can interfere with the bonding.
It may also happen – although much less frequently – that labels are applied to pieces of fresh meat or cheese. Anti-migration labels are the only reliable option in these cases.
If you need to label foods in contact with oil, fat or blood, remember that the risk of harmful substances migrating to the food is much higher; therefore, make sure to choose anti-migration labels made specifically for these purposes.
We design exclusive direct food contact labels taking all the aspects of the product to be labelled into account. The choice of the material, font, colour, paints, and barcodes to use will allow you to obtain unique creations that will make your products more visually appealing.
Humidity-resistant and anti-mould labels are ideal for foods exposed to condensation and will ensure optimal visibility of every part of the product. Waterproof labels and labels with water-resistant paints are a good alternative. Are your products oily? Then choose grease-resistant labels.
An effective label must stick completely to the product and be fully legible even after exposure to extreme conditions.
At this point, you need to decide about the information regarding the product: its name, logo (which must be clear, simple but outstanding and bound to your company), nutrition chart, brand identity, origin and traceability.
The quality of the materials, paints, and print is also important to ensure clear and legible food labels with bright colours and a perfect contrast to catch the eye of potential buyers.
As you can see, the aspects to consider when making safe and reliable food labels are many.