Monthly Archives: May 2015

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    The Diminishing Power of the Organic Label - And What To Do About It

    What Does the 'Organic' Label Really Mean?
    Whenever consumers go food shopping, they come face to face with a visual barrage of product labels that provide information about everything from the geographic origin of an item to what it does - and does not - contain.

    Over the past decade or so, organic products have gained considerable traction among a public that has steadily become more health-conscious. Since 2002, the United States Department of Agriculture has regulated the use of the word "organic" on stickers and labels, requiring goods to adhere to specific guidelines related to soil quality, additive usage, pest and weed control practices, animal care and more.

    "There's a lot of integrity behind the label," Betsy Rakola, organic policy advisor for the USDA, told TIME. "Anyone who wants to sell or market or label their product as organic has to follow the USDA regulations. It's about the process and how the food is grown. That's the assurance that the seal provides."

    Integrity in Question
    Despite this level of stringent oversight, a number of consumers have begun to regard the organic label with skepticism, according to a recent study by Mintel. Among the 2,002 shoppers polled by the market research firm, more than 50 percent said they thought companies labeled their products as organic to give them "an excuse to charge more," TIME reported. Meanwhile, more than one-third of respondents said they believed the word "organic" had "no real value or definition" when used in the context of the food and beverage retail industry, and was in fact little more than a buzzword intended to set products apart from the rest and boost sales.

    The findings of Mintel's research, based on surveys conducted in December of last year, showed consumer attitudes toward the organic label have undergone a significant shift over the past decade. As reported in the Journal of Extension, just 7.4 percent of shoppers polled in December 2002 and January 2003 said they had "no trust at all" in the seal, while 23 percent stated that they had "a little." More than two-thirds of participants in the study reported having either "some" or "a lot" of trust.

    Why the Change?
    Mintel concluded that manufacturers have not adequately communicated the reasons behind and benefits of buying organic products, nor sufficiently justified the added expense of such items.

    Moreover, theorized TIME's Katy Steinmetz, the organic label "may also have lost credibility because of its close association with buzzwords that have little or no definition in the eyes of the government" - "natural" and "artisanal," to name just two.

    In addition, Mintel analyst Billy Roberts noted that due to large corporations such as WalMart and Target jumping on the organic bandwagon, the price of organic products has fallen. This decrease in cost has been unnerving to some consumers.

    "High prices were almost a certain reassurance to consumers that what they were buying was what had been promised to them," Roberts explained, as quoted by TIME.

    So, what does this mean for companies that sell organic products? Simply put, the inclusion of the word "organic" on custom stickers or labels may no longer be sufficient for enterprises hoping to secure the business of health-conscious consumers. Companies may want to go into more detail, listing some of the tenets required for a product to qualify as organic in the eyes of the USDA, such as "additive-free" and "no artificial preservatives" to give shoppers more specific information and win their confidence.

  • Promote Allergy Relief on Product Labels to Temper Seasonal Sniffles

    Promote Allergy Relief With Product LabelsBottle Labels Touting Allergy Relief Especially Sought After This Year

    There are many great things about the onset of summer, but the rising pollen counts that send people hurrying to the nearest drugstore to scour medicine bottle labels for the promise of allergy relief isn't one of them. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the prevalence of seasonal allergies to pollen from grasses, trees and weeds is increasing among the American population. What's more, according to Dr. David Samadi, a medical correspondent for Fox News' Medical A-Team, the harsh, long winter that afflicted many areas of the country this year is an unwanted gift that keeps on giving for allergy sufferers. "The extremely cold temperatures we experienced this winter caused a delay in tree pollination, which is now occurring at the same time as grass and flower pollinations," Samadi explained in an article he penned for the New York Daily News. In other words, rather than being hit by allergies to tree pollen followed later in the season by reactions to grass and flower pollen, people are having allergic responses to all three triggers at once.

    Product Labels Must Inform Allergy Sufferers

    It's critical that the product labels on allergy medication provide clarity for consumers. Some over-the-counter medicines cause drowsiness, which is ideal for people whose stuffy noses and itchy eyes are keeping them up at night but not so great for individuals trying to get through the work day in spite of their symptoms. As Best Health noted, other options contain decongestants that should be avoided by those who have high blood pressure or glaucoma. To put it simply, shopping for medications that promise to alleviate allergy symptoms could introduce other problems if customers don't select the right product for their needs. That's where labels come in. If a medicine causes drowsiness, contains ingredients that could be dangerous to some people or has any other attributes that shoppers should know about, manufacturers need to ensure that this information is included on the product's packaging.

    Striking A Balance Between Product Labels' Design and Information

    Product labels need to provide information to shoppers - and that is especially the case for those stickers and labels affixed to allergy medicine. Manufacturers may be concerned that after they include lengthy ingredient lists and specific instructions for use, their labels won't have room for anything else. Lightning Labels can help companies in this predicament strike a balance between aesthetic appeal and functional requirements. Our high-resolution, professional-quality printing allows you to shrink text without compromising legibility, leaving plenty of room for your logo and the promise of allergy relief. Our vibrant, eye-catching labels will attract shoppers' attention to your product, and the small yet easily readable text will ensure consumers find the information they need once they reach out and take that bottle of allergy medicine off the shelf.

  • Promote Summer Camps with Personalized Stickers

    Personalized Stickers Help Promote Summer CampCustom Stickers Can Help Get the Word Out About Summer Camp

    School's out for summer - or soon will be - and that means camp is in the near future for many youngsters who are ready to promote their summer plans with custom stickers. According to the American Camp Association, the United States is home to more than 7,000 overnight camps and 5,000 day camps, a number that increased by 21 percent between 2002 and 2013. The ACA's Sites, Facilities, Programs Report identified campers' top activities as recreational swimming and other aquatic activities, arts and crafts, challenges/ropes and archery, but many also enjoy horseback riding, climbing, farming, gardening, wilderness trips and community service. Whether they are experiencing first-time jitters or are eagerly awaiting the day they get to go back to their familiar seasonal stomping grounds, kids don't have to wait until they arrive on-site to display their summer camp allegiance, all thanks to custom stickers. And you never know - kids who see summer camp stickers on their peers' school lockers, folders or backpacks may even be inspired to lobby their parents for a last-minute sign-up so they can join the fun!

    Personalized Stickers Serve A Dual Purpose

    As well as promoting the summer camps that produce them, personalized stickers can also help attendees develop the sense that they are part of something, even before they arrive on the first day. Organizations eager to strengthen this sense of connection may want to consider producing multiple sticker designs - some with the sole purpose of getting the word out about the summer camp itself, and others that have blank spaces where campers can fill in their names, teams, cabin numbers, etc. People love to belong, and personalized stickers are an inexpensive yet effective tool to make them feel included. What's more, Lightning Labels' low minimums and reasonable prices mean summer camps don't have to worry about their stickers breaking the bank.

    Why Choose Sticker Printing from Lightning Labels?

    Whether camps decide to go with multiple sticker motifs or simply need small quantities of one design, chances are good that Lightning Labels' custom sticker printing service can meet their needs. Before their stickers roll off the presses, camp personnel can take a look at free press proofs to make sure the final product will be everything they imagined. Once they give the OK, they can expect their customized stickers to be printed in two to three days and shipped to them soon afterward.

  • 'GMO-Free' Product Labels on the Horizon

    GMO Labels: A Source of Ongoing Controversy
    Concerns about genetically modified foods have run rampant over the past few years. Some researchers have raised alarm about risks to human health that range from allergies and digestive issues to birth defects and cancer. Meanwhile, environmentalists have voiced their own worries about the staying power of crops and weeds modified to be resistant to regular herbicides. However, other studies claim that GMOs are safe, including those conducted on behalf of the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association.

    Given the level of controversy over GMOs and the number of headlines related to the subject, it makes sense that many members of the public would be wary of consuming genetically modified food. Efforts to uphold the people's right to know by mandating that products' GMO status be made clear fell flat in the past, including California's Proposition 37 back in 2012, which would have required genetically modified foods and foods containing genetically modified ingredients to be labeled accordingly.

    The Government Steps In
    While consumer groups continue to push for this legislation, the United States Department of Agriculture has announced the creation of GMO-free certification and product labeling. As The Associated Press reported, companies would have to pay for the voluntary "USDA Process Verified" label to assure consumers their products are GMO-free.

    Earlier this year, Kansas Republican Representative Mike Pompeo introduced a bill that laid out a similar idea based on voluntary certification. The AP reported that the food industry, which has historically been opposed to GMO-free labeling due to the insinuation that GMOs are dangerous, supported the non-mandatory approach.

    The Bottom Line
    But what about the conflicting claims from researchers, environmentalists and food industry representatives regarding the safety of genetically modified foods and products that contain GMOs? As far as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is concerned, the GMOs currently on the market are safe, but consumer advocates argue that regardless of whether this is actually the case, people still deserve to know whether the items they buy have been genetically modified.

    Currently, food producers use a private GMO-free label from the nonprofit Non-GMO Project, but this move into GMO labeling territory is the government's first. According to the organization's website, its "Non-GMO Project Verified" seal is the only independent verification of its kind in North America, and rigorous ongoing testing of ingredients is required in order for the standard to be maintained.

  • Get Your Marketing on a Roll with Custom Roll Stickers

    Custom Roll Stickers Promote Your BusinessRoll on the Era of Roll Stickers for Your Business

    There was probably a period in your company's history when sheet labels met your needs and you didn't think roll stickers were necessary. At that time, you didn't mind peeling off stickers one by one because you used them in such small quantities. That being said, there comes a certain point in a business' life cycle when it makes sense to leave sheet labels behind and switch to roll labels instead. Human beings are naturally averse to change and tend to stick to what they know, but the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of roll labels speak for themselves.

    Why Use Roll Stickers?

    Roll stickers have multiple advantages over their sheet equivalents. Here's a list of just a few:

    • Better value: Buying labels in sheets tends to be more expensive than ordering roll labels, even when a company offers low sheet label minimums. Why not buy roll stickers in bulk and redirect the money you save toward improving another area of your business?
    • Quicker application: Sitting down one afternoon, peeling labels off sheets one by one and painstakingly affixing them to the bottles, boxes, tubes or whatever other form of container holds your wares can be extremely therapeutic once you get into a rhythm - but it can also end up being a huge waste of time. Whatever industry you're in, chances are good that you and your employees have better things to do than manually stick labels onto each and every one of your products. Roll stickers can be fed into label applicators to speed up the process and free up time on your end.
    • Easier storage: This benefit is the simplest of them all. Think about it: How often have you misplaced a sheet of labels, never to be seen again? It's much harder to lose an entire roll!

    Order Custom Roll Labels from Lightning Labels

    Whether you're looking for custom roll labels to affix to food containers, bath and body products, nutraceuticals, candles, beer and wine bottles or something else, Lightning Labels can deliver. Our professional-quality labels look just as good as - if not better than - those used by large national brands, so you'll be able to pique consumers' interest without breaking the bank.

  • Mucinex Manufacturer Recalls 1.5 Million Bottles Due to Product Label Error

    Recall Ordered Following Discovery of Undeclared Active Ingredients
    Mucinex is thousands of people's go-to medicine when they need to alleviate coughing and congestion. However, a recent product label mix-up means some of the bottles may end up being more harmful than the afflictions their contents are intended to cure.

    Reckitt Benckiser Group, the manufacturer that makes Mucinex, recently ordered a recall of approximately 1.5 million bottles after a mislabeling issue came to light involving the information about drug interactions, side effects and active ingredients listed on their labels. Particularly worrying, according to Bloomberg, is the fact that the error involved acetaminophen, which should not be mixed with alcohol or taken by people with liver problems. As listed on Mucinex's recall webpage, the other ingredients involved in the mislabeling were dextromethorphan, guaifenesin, phenylephrine and diphenhydramine. According to the page, at least four different types of liquid-form Mucinex were affected by the error: Mucinex Fast-MAX Night Time Cold & Flu, Mucinex Fast-MAX Cold & Sinus, Mucinex Fast-MAX Severe Congestion & Cough and Mucinex Fast-MAX Cold, Flu & Sore Throat. The page also specified that the recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the United States Food and Drug Administration.

    An Abundance of Caution
    Despite the high number of bottles involved in the recall, the company believes only approximately 1 percent are labeled with the incorrect information. The remaining 99 percent are being taken off the market due to an abundance of caution, Bloomberg reported.

    "Even though there appears to be a very small number of affected units, we have instigated a full voluntary recall of all potentially impacted products," Reckitt spokeswoman Lynn Kenney told Bloomberg in an email quoted by the news source.

    Precedent Exists for Acetaminophen Labeling Problems
    As FiercePharma Manufacturing noted, Reckitt isn't the first manufacturer to run into labeling issues that pertained to acetaminophen. In July of last year, GlaxoSmithKline recalled four lots of its Panadol Advance product in Puerto Rico due to insufficient child-resistant packaging measures that introduced the risk of "unintentional ingestion and overdose," according to a press release by the company. 

    Further afield, Johnson & Johnson's South Korean unit, Janssen Korea, withdrew 1.7 million bottles of Children's Tylenol from the market in May 2013 after routine testing revealed higher levels of acetaminophen than were listed on product labels. Citing a Janssen Korea statement, The Wall Street Journal explained that the higher concentrations were the result of bottles being hand-filled due to mechanical failure.

  • Get Ready for Farmers Market Season with DIY Product Labels

    Get Ready for Farmers Market Season With DIY Product LabelsCustom Labels Set Your Products Apart at the Farmers Market

    Spring is the season of melting snow, rising temperatures, blooming flowers and the eagerly anticipated return of farmers markets after the long, cold winter. Farmers, bakers, craftspeople and other artisans planning to sell their wares at these markets know there will be stiff competition for shoppers' attention, and custom labels may help them gain an edge in this respect. People who visit farmers markets have so many booths to check out and things to look at, you'd be surprised how something as small as eye-catching product labels can really make a difference. If you're a farmers market veteran, you already know the lay of the land, but if you're considering setting up shop at such an event for the first time, you may not know how - or even where - to get started. Luckily, the United States Department of Agriculture curates a National Farmers Market Directory that listed more than 8,000 different markets at the latest count, so there's probably one near you!

    Custom Stickers Say A Lot About Your Brand

    You might think that when it comes to the process of creating custom stickers, design is the only thing that matters, but that isn't the case. Of course, the design of stickers and labels may prove invaluable in terms of piquing shoppers' interest and setting your wares apart from everyone else's, but when potential customers take a closer look, will they see cheap, low-quality labels or vibrant, professional-grade stickers with crisp lines and colors that pop? The quality of your products' packaging says a lot about the quality of the products themselves, so make sure to make a good impression!

    Why Buy Printed Labels from Lightning Labels?

    At Lightning Labels, we understand that good-quality printed labels can mean the difference between a purchase and a pass. That's why we put so much effort into making sure our offerings look as polished and professional as the packaging you see on products put out by national brands. If you're on a budget, only need a small number of labels or have a very specific label shape and size in mind, don't worry - chances are good that our low minimums, reasonable prices and wide array of options will meet your needs.

  • How Accurate Are Calorie Counts on Product Labels?

    Calories May Be Overstated on Some Food Labels, Experts Assert
    Nutrition information labels are go-to sources for people on restricted diets, individuals who are trying to lose or gain weight, shoppers looking to eat healthy and consumers who are simply interested in knowing more about the food they eat. However, some experts, notably nutrition scientist David Baer of the Department of Agriculture, believe the calorie-counting system most commonly used to determine the information included on product labels may be inaccurate, The New York Times reported.

    Specifically, as the Times detailed, the energy provided to the body by the protein and fiber in food may be significantly overstated on labels, with numbers up to 25 percent higher than they should be. According to the news source, the method of measuring calories involves burning food in a calorimeter to gauge the amount of energy it contains. However, this approach does not account for the fact that some foods - such as meat and nuts - are harder to digest than others, meaning the body must use a higher amount of energy to break them down.

    A New Approach
    Geoffrey Livesey, head of British nutrition consulting company Independent Nutrition Logic and a nutrition consultant to the United Nations, has come up with a way to calculate the amount of energy contained within a food that the body can use, as well as the overall calories available. However, there is some dispute about how to go about adopting the new system - and, indeed, whether implementing it would even be a wise course of action in the first place.

    "The old system is in place in most developed countries, and it would be a massive administrative and political undertaking to coordinate changes," explained Rachel Carmody, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California San Francisco, as quoted by the news source.

    Considering the Consequences
    Carmody also noted that a change in labeling might "cause a crisis of confidence" for shoppers that rely on labels to provide important information about what they're buying and eating.

    "Paying attention to the food label is far better than not paying attention to the food label, even if the label is not precise," she asserted.

    Additionally, lowering calorie counts may encourage consumers to eat more, noted Karen Lapsley of the California Almond Board. According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last year, more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. Given this statistic, the last thing Americans should be doing is upping their food consumption in response to labeling changes.

  • Use Labels and Stickers to Promote Safety During National Bike Month

    National Bike Month Safety StickersInclude Safety Warnings on Bike Product Labels

    May is National Bike Month, which means there's no time like the present to promote bike safety via product labels on the vehicles themselves, as well as adding the stickers to accompanying accessories. National Bike Month has been held every year since 1956 and includes events such as Bike to Work Week and Bike to School Day. With event sponsor the League of American Bicyclists and numerous local bike shops and organizations gearing up to draw attention to the various benefits of biking, it's important to pair these encouraging messages with safety warnings. After all, riding a bike may be a healthier, less costly and more environmentally friendly form of getting yourself where you need to go, but if you don't follow the rules of the road or fail to take precautions such as wearing a helmet, you could end up pedaling into disaster - and that's where warning labels come in.

    What Tips Should Bike Safety Stickers Provide?

    If you're wondering where to start when it comes to crafting bike safety stickers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website is a great resource. Encourage riders to: • Wear a properly fitted helmet • Inspect the bike before riding • Dress in bright colors and reflective gear • Stay alert and watch out for road hazards • Follow traffic laws • Ride with at least one hand on the handlebars • Avoid riding at night • Yield to traffic and pedestrians when appropriate • Look before turning

    Make Safety Labels Pop

    Imparting information that may help to keep bike-riders safe is important, but if safety labels aren't eye-catching and attractive, the tips are more likely to go unread. Make sure this doesn't happen by partnering with Lightning Labels. Even if you only want to print a small number of custom labels and stickers, Lightning Labels' low minimums and inexpensive unit pricing will be able to accommodate your requirements and restrictions. However, don't associate the low cost with low quality. We offer a wide variety of different label materials, finishes and hues, but one thing's for sure: You'll get professional-quality labels with vibrant colors, clear and easy-to-read text, crisp designs and, if needed, the ability to withstand water and heat. Let Lightning Labels help you get the word out about bicycle safety this National Bike Month!

  • News Roundup: Product Recalls Hitting the Headlines in April

    In April, a number of label-related product recalls were in the news, one of which involved a big name: Starbucks.

    Beef and Pork Products from Corn Maiden Foods
    Harbor City, California-based Corn Maiden Foods recalled approximately 15,600 pounds of its beef brisket taquitos, pork tamales and pork Yucatan products following the discovery that soy protein had not been listed on the items' labels. The beef and pork products, which were shipped to hotels, institutional locations and restaurants in California, pose a threat to people with soy allergies. The mislabeling issue was uncovered by in-plant personnel from the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service while they were in the process of discovering routine verification activities.

    Assorted Drug Products from Wockhardt
    Pharmaceutical producer Wockhardt recently stated that it is recalling 12 to 15 products still on the market in the United States. The announcement came after the FDA banned two of Wockhardt's Indian facilities, including its Chikalthana plant in the state of Maharashtra, following a host of complaints made by consumers over the past three years. As Bloomberg Business reported, Wockhardt has received nearly 500 complaints since January 2012, 335 of which came from the U.S. Consumers expressed their dissatisfaction about a number of different issues, including missing labels on drug bottles.

    Ham Loaf from Dutch Valley Meats
    After 20 years of using the same labels on its ham loaf, Arthur, Illinois-based Dutch Valley Meats recently recalled approximately 2,400 pounds of the product due to a labeling issue. According to a report by the News-Gazette, although the label on the ham loaf lists "cracker meal" as an ingredient, it does not make specific reference to wheat - a known allergen. Doug Beachy, assistant manager of Dutch Valley Meats, told the News-Gazette that the Illinois Department of Agriculture approved the labels about two decades ago. As quoted by the media outlet, Beachy described the need to include wheat in the ingredients panel as something that "slipped through the cracks." Luckily, the product was only distributed to two retail locations and one restaurant, so the execution of the recall was a small-scale operation.

    Beef and Chicken Blintzes from Royal Frozen Food
    Approximately 3,800 pounds of beef and chicken blintzes manufactured by Los Angeles-based Royal Frozen Food were recalled due to an undeclared allergen. The products' labels failed to alert consumers to the presence of milk. The items, which were produced on various dates before April 16, were shipped to markets and retail stores in California and Nevada. People who are allergic to milk may experience a range of symptoms if they ingest products that contain it, ranging from wheezing and hives to digestive problems and anaphylaxis, according to the Mayo Clinic. The USDA classified the recall as Class III, which the department defines as "a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death."

    Black-and-White Mini Cookies from Sweet Sam's Baking Company
    Bronx, New York-based Sweet Sam's Baking Company recently issued a recall of the black-and-white mini cookies sold at Starbucks locations up and down the East Coast following the discovery that milk had been left off the product's list of ingredients. As detailed above, eating or drinking milk or milk-containing products can be life-threatening for some individuals. In fact, the mislabeling issue first came to light when two Starbucks customers complained of allergic reactions after eating the cookies. According to a Starbucks news release, the cookies were sold in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia.

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