Monthly Archives: November 2015

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    Help Consumers Find Their Healthy Zone with Quality Custom Labels

    Help Consumers Find Their Healthy Zone with Quality Custom Labels

    Winter Raises Health Concerns

    Winter can be a tough time of year for health-conscious consumers struggling with everything from the flu to dry skin. However, given the fact that such a high portion of the population is now driven by finding healthier alternatives to traditional products, you can capitalize on the hardships of winter and help your customers out by leveraging health product labels. Ensuring that your clientele understands the contents and benefits of your products can go a long way toward boosting your brand image and sales.

    Considering the fact that the holiday shopping season is underway, now is a great time to iron out the details of custom product labeling initiatives. The effort put into these projects will be well worth your while, as they can help to cultivate higher revenues toward the end of the year and put the company in a good position to excel in the new year. As long as your packaging and labeling strategies align with best practices and step outside the ordinary, your products will fly off the shelves this winter.

    Beauty Product Labels

    Dry skin is one of the many afflictions that will become more common in the winter months. Individuals are less likely to go outside, and the air is generally drier in many parts of the nation, with cold winds brutalizing exposed skin in much of the United States. You can position your products for success by leveraging beauty labels that explain the various benefits your products have with respect to skin health, and you can even further customize the items to be winter-centric.

    The most straightforward approach to this would be listing the benefits of your products on the label, but you can also take a more creative angle. Consider including custom labels that complement the standard packaging with informative guidance on the best practices of skin health protection in the winter. Research has shown that a more educational approach to marketing can have a better impact on brand stature in various industries, and you can take this approach for stronger brand positioning this winter.

    You can also include Web addresses for portals that will give consumers more background information about beauty and health best practices in winter. Either way, try to be informative in the content contained within the labels.

    Following through

    With all of the work put into the customization and design of these labels, you will want assurance that the finished product is up to your standards. Rather than trying to handle the printing process alone, you can instead leverage the services of a company like Lightning Labels for all your custom sticker, decal and label needs.

    This firm can help you address consumer concerns regarding winter health issues, and will ensure that labels are printed in a timely fashion following the original order. To position your brand as a leader this winter, consider leveraging custom health labels provided by Lightning Labels.

  • FDA Set to Put Added Sugar Category on Food Labels

    New Food Labels for Sugary Products
    Food labels may be facing new regulation by the United States Food and Drug Administration soon, according to Tech Times, as the FDA has announced plans to require labels for added or extra sugar on food products. The proposal is currently under review but was created in hopes of cutting sugar intake levels among consumers, explained the media outlet.

    The proposal doesn't include a strict definition of what exactly constitutes an added sugar, but in the past, FDA guidelines have described it as "a sugar-containing ingredient that is added to the product during processing." As of now, food labels only include the total amount of sugar in the product, while the production process is left out of the calculation, noted the source.

    Labels Fail to Reveal Hidden Sugar
    Sugar can exist in a lot of different food products. Ketchup is actually a large source of sugar intake for most consumers, as well as bread and pre-prepared soups, reported Tech Times. The new label proposal seeks to reveal sneaky sugar sources such as those.

    Currently, the FDA recommends a daily sugar intake  equating to 10 percent of total daily calories, explained the source. For children 3 and above, this drops to 50 grams a day, the equivalent to the amount of sugar found in a can of Coke.

    Mashable set out to illustrate what 50 grams of sugar a day really looks like. For example, a snack consisting of a peach Snapple, a mini wheel of Babybel cheese and a packet of Blue Diamond salted almonds would just about reach the daily limit, totaling 43 grams of sugar.

    In addition to highlighting sugar additions, the FDA is proposing percentage of daily value as an added measure on labels, reported Mashable. The percentage will appear on the nutritional area of the labels to indicate how much of the daily sugar recommendation would be taken up by the product serving size.

    Increased Consumer Knowledge Due to Proposed Labels
    The new proposal sheds light on an increasing problem in the average American's diet. Mashable noted a statistic from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that revealed added sugars are responsible for 16 percent of the total calories in an American's diet.

    By informing consumers of these unknown additives, the proposal hopes to reduce caloric intake and improve American health. Whether consumers will take this new information to heart  remains to be seen, but the basis of increased consumer knowledge could appeal to shoppers.

    "For example, a consumer who drinks a 20-ounce sugared beverage may be surprised to know it contains about 66 grams of added sugar, which would be listed on the label as 132 percent of the Daily Value," wrote Director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Susan Mayne, according to the source.

    Labels Seek to Combat U.S. Health Risks
    High amounts of sugar in a diet have historically been linked to a laundry list of negative health effects, explained Mashable, from obesity to high blood pressure. To put it simply, too much sugar is no good for your health.

    However, the new measures are not going through without some criticism. Tech Times reported that a study by The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that when additive sugars were listed, consumers overestimated the real amount of sugar in the food. This created an issue for food brands because consumers were overall less likely to buy the products.

    The FDA proposal will no doubt draw criticism from food companies. Moreover, nutritionists are skeptical about the measure truly being able to curb obesity in the U.S., according to Tech Times.

    "If you want to try and prevent obesity, or want to create policy that is going to help people, simply addressing the availability of junk foods and sodas isn't going to do it," argued David Just, a dietitian, as quoted in the Tech Times piece.

    Whether these proposed new food labels will help in the fight against obesity or not, the added consumer knowledge may just be enough to push this proposal forward.

  • Capitalizing on Child Safety & Protection Month

    Capitalizing on Child Safety & Protection Month

    How Will Your Business Participate?

    November is Child Safety & Protection Month, which is an especially big event for the average product manufacturer who targets younger consumers. Although child safety labels are required on any objects that might present a risk to kids throughout the year, the observance of this awareness month will act as an opportunity for companies to go above and beyond the call of duty to gain more trust from their target markets.

    Because this observance also takes place in the busiest shopping month of the year, manufacturers and retailers will want to get moving on their child safety protection labels as soon as possible to get them out before Black Friday. Aligning a brand with this event while still ensuring that the information in the warning-related labels is accurate and easy for parents to understand can help to fuel greater revenues moving into the new year.

    Labels for Kids

    Safety labels should not only be functional in the sense of conveying the risks involved, but should also draw the eyes of consumers to the product. Packaging is always a critical aspect of revenue generation in these industries, and you can consider using custom labels that will stand out from the crowd while still covering the requirements of regulatory compliance. With customization, more information can be contained within the labels as well.

    For example, you can leverage a design that at once celebrates the holidays, explains the risks the products pose to children and the fact that November is Child Safety & Protection Month all in one fell swoop. In other situations, you might want to use safety labels to cover the requirements, then use specialized stickers for items that are on the shelves this month to observe the event, ensuring that the content involved does not get too cluttered.

    Any way a business leader slices it, though, it is important to take advantage of opportunities such as this one more proactively than competitors, as markets are becoming more saturated alongside the economic recovery. With relatively simple and affordable projects involving specialized and customized labels, toy and other item manufacturers can position their products to excel in the marketplace this holiday shopping season.

    Get Moving

    Toys are going to be flying off the shelves in a couple of weeks, and you will need to ensure that you place special labels and stickers on those items ahead of Thanksgiving. This can seem like a daunting prospect, but it need not be. First, get marketers and product managers involved in the design aspects of the initiative now and make it a priority to complete the tasks within the next week.

    Then, working with a reliable provider of label, sticker and decal services such as Lightning Labels can help to ensure that the turnaround on orders is timely enough to place them on products before Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday arrive.

  • Whole Foods Creates "Responsibly Grown" Food Label

    New "Responsibly Grown" Food Product Labels Cause Controversy
    There is considerable controversy surrounding a new food label being rolled out by Whole Foods, reported CNBC. The program behind the Responsibly Grown label was created with the idea of factoring more complex environmental issues into the growing process.

    "We're asking suppliers a series of questions about a range of topics: soil management, pesticide use and pest management, water conservation, energy use and greenhouse gases, topics like farm-worker welfare," Global Produce Coordinator at Whole Foods Matt Rogers explained to the source.

    The process would involve suppliers paying a fee to Whole Foods in order to fill out an online questionnaire. The survey would ask a range of questions to help determine what rating within the responsibly grown system the supplier's produce deserves, noted CNBC. The levels of qualification range from good, better to best - suppliers failing to meet the "good" standard will receive no rating at all.

    Anger Over Product Labels
    As CNBC explained, the intention of the program, according to Rogers, was to add a supplementary level of transparency to Whole Foods' produce products. However, organic farmers aren't quite seeing things the same way.

    The Atlantic explained that farmer frustration stems from the inherent devaluing of the term "organic." Organic farmers are already responsible for paying fees and adhering to strict regulatory guidelines in order to qualify for their organic food label.

    "Organic is responsibly grown, for goodness sake," said one fruit grower, according to the source. "Organic should be the foundation of anything that Whole Foods might do."

    Many of the complaints toward the new system have to do with the fact that the rating system is based on an unmonitored questionnaire. The organic labeling process has a third-party monitor, according to Verna Seufert, a geography professor at McGill University whose work focuses on global agriculture, as quoted in The Atlantic piece.

    "I could see the anger of the organic farmers who pay the fees and follow these rules, only to appear beside conventional produce that is well-rated," noted Seufert.

    A Flawed Food Labeling System
    In fact, it is possible for non-organic growers to receive even higher ratings under Whole Foods' Responsibly Grown program than those cultivating organically farmed produce. The source reported that conventional growers can do small things like eliminating a few pesticides and setting aside areas in their field for conservation. These tasks can boost ratings and potentially help these individuals surpass the ratings of organic farmers under the Responsibly Grown System.

    With these complaints on the table, Whole Foods has made a point of noting that while Responsibly Grown is a helpful standard, the organic certification is always better.

    "Certified organic is really still the gold standard in terms of sustainable agriculture practices," Rogers said to CNBC.

    Whole Foods responded to a letter penned by concerned farmers in the summer of this year by announcing a clear set of changes to its Responsibly Grown certifications, according to Civil Eats.

    While there are still ways for conventional farmers to receive higher rating than organic producers, Whole Foods has agreed to give any organically farmed food an automatic "good" rating, reported the source.

    Additionally, the company plans to continue to review its current scoring system with the California Certified Organic Farmers in order to better acknowledge organic produce.

    It is worth noting that the organic certification has its flaws as well. While the requirements for the certification are monitored closely, the process is largely based on trusting suppliers to tell the truth.

    Despite the conflict, Whole Foods is trying to take critical steps toward increasing transparency among suppliers and their food product labels.

  • Adorn Handmade Holiday Gifts with Festive Stickers


    Adorn Handmade Holiday Gifts with Festive Stickers

    Make Handmade Products Fly

    Relatively simple, mass-produced products will often have simple decals, stickers and labels on the packaging, and that is fine given the fact that these items are a dime a dozen, so to speak. However, if you produce handmade products and are looking to make some waves this holiday shopping season, you might want to consider looking into festive stickers that will ensure the aesthetic of your items' packaging shows the same care as what is inside.

    Holiday stickers can glam up your handmade products to boost their appeal on the shelves and the Web, all the while ensuring that the custom, carefully crafted items are consistently themed. Considering the fact that consumers are increasingly in favor of limited edition and handmade goods, this can be a boon to marketing efforts and branding initiatives, thus giving you a better chance at maximizing revenues in the busiest shopping season of the year.

    Design Considerations

    First and foremost, you will want to ensure that the stickers and labels used make it clear that the items have indeed been handmade. If you do not, customers might have no way of distinguishing between your products and the mass-produced ones that are next to them on the shelves. In addition to the designation of handmade crafting, you will also want to spruce up the labels a bit to reflect the festive spirit of the season, perhaps adorning them with Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah imagery.

    Custom holiday stickers can be used to get a bit more creative with the packaging on products, allowing you to knock several birds down with one stone. For example, you can promote the holiday shopping season, your brand and the fact that the product was handmade in one fell swoop with the right design on the stickers. Chances are this would be relatively difficult to achieve with a standard boilerplate label or sticker scheme, and custom options are available that will not break the bank.

    Get marketing and product management employees involved in the conception of these designs, and run them by the sales team to ensure that they are covering all of the bases intended.

    Hit the Ground Running

    Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are all just around the corner, so the time to get moving on these projects is now. Customized holiday stickers will certainly take a little bit of time to design and conceptualize, but you can look to a reliable label service provider to ensure your orders are returned in time for the big shopping weekend.

    Lightning Labels offers a range of label, sticker and decal services, each of which can be customized to fit your specific needs and objectives, while turnarounds on orders are among the best in the industry. To ensure that your handmade products fly off the shelves in a few weeks and bring your brand up ahead of 2016, get moving on custom labels today.

  • General Mills Sued Over Gluten-Free Mislabeling

    A Gluten-Free Food Product Label
    In early October, General Mills announced a mass recall of 1.8 million boxes of Cheerios with the food product label declaring the cereal to be gluten-free, according to Reuters. The recall was due to the revelation that there may have been trace amounts of wheat in these cereals. The recall included both original and honey nut flavored Cheerio products.

    The problem occurred at a General Mills facility in Lodi, California where wheat flour was allegedly added to the oat flour system that was designated to be gluten free. In a company statement President of General Mills' cereal business Jim Murphy claimed that the incident was isolated and largely due to human error, reported Reuters.

    The gluten-free cereal is a product of a company-wide effort to appeal to an increasingly health-conscious consumer base, explained the source. General Mills is currently rolling out five gluten-free Cheerios options and making significant investments in the promotion of these new offerings.

    Reuters noted that in a recent company call the General Mills claimed that these newer gluten-free options stand to be "one of the largest merchandising events in our cereal business's history."

    The recall affected only 1 percent of Cheerio production, according to the source, representing an insignificant amount in overall company proceedings.

    Incorrect Labeling Products Presents Danger to Consumers
    While the food labeling failure happened in early October, General Mills was hit with a class-action lawsuit in early November, according to Delish. The suit cites "deceptive, unfair, and false advertising and merchandising practices" by General Mills.

    Two customers of Cheerios were responsible for the legal action. They cited health risks for themselves as a major concern, explained the source.

    Baking Business reported on the mishap, pointing to key parts of the lawsuit to explain the customers' grievances.

    "Defendants' non-compliant 'gluten-free' label is an unqualified nutrient content claim that poses the very risk of deception that regulations were promulgated against," the lawsuit stated, according to Baking Business. "By labeling products 'gluten-free' defendants created the misimpression that their products do not contain gluten and are therefore safe for those persons who may be sensitive to gluten to eat."

    The shoppers are seeking a refund for the purchased products along with an unspecified amount for penalties and damages, noted Delish. Plaintiffs have asked General Mills to take an increased responsibility with customer notification in regard to their new gluten-free products, including a closer attention to their food labeling processes.

  • "Natural" Food Labels Will Receive Clear Guidelines

    Lawsuits Over Food Labeling
    As of late, food and drink companies alike have been quick to remove labeling from their products that make claims about the food being "natural." This is largely due to the string of recent lawsuits over false advertising claims, explained The Daily Meal.

    The Guardian noted that major players like Welch's and Gerber are facing the heat for claiming "all-natural" ingredients on their food labels.

    Welch's faced a lawsuit in September that claimed the company was participating in "deceptive practices in misrepresenting the fruit content and the nutritional and health qualities of Welch's fruit snacks," according to the source.

    Before the lawsuit fruit gummy packaging labels read "Made With REAL Fruit," now, in light of the claims, the packages read "Made With More REAL Fruit."

    "Food is made to look healthier than it is," said Director of Nutrition Policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest Margo Wootan, noted The Guardian. "The company is misleading them [consumers]."

    A Temporary Labeling Solution
    With all the commotion surrounding natural labeling on food products, the Organic and Natural Health Association, or OHNA, has a tentative solution. The Daily Meal reported that the OHNA will present a certification program in early 2016 that will create a list of requirements for companies that want to receive an official OHNA "natural" seal.

    Interested companies will have to undergo the process of inspection to ensure they meet all required criteria to deserved the "natural" label. From there, these businesses can pay a small fee to the OHNA to receive the official label for their product.

    These foods cannot contain any sweeteners, flavoring, colors or artificial preservatives. Additionally, the food items must be free of GMOs, explained The Daily Meal.

    When it comes to beef, all products must be pastured and grass-fed. Synthetically produced vitamins are also out of the question for companies seeking the natural label.

    The major flaw with these labels is that they will not be government-approved and they are overall a voluntary effort. Companies are not forced to participate in the food labeling verification process and as such the regulation is merely a self-imposed effort, reported The Guardian.

    However, the OHNA is attempting to make a considerable step in the right direction by finally providing some guidelines about what qualifies as natural and what doesn't.

    "It became clear to us that we just needed to define 'natural' as what it was," explained OHNA CEO Karen Howard, according to the source. The Guardian went on to point out that The Food and Drug Administration does not provide consumers or businesses with clear definitions when it comes to the term. 

    There is a clear need for these type of specifications considering consumer trust in the meaning of "natural" labeled food products.

    According to a survey by the National Marketing Institute, of the consumers surveyed 46 percent believed that there was some form of government regulation of "natural" labeling, The Guardian explained. Moreover, 50 percent believed the term meant that the food labeled "natural" was free of GMOs and pesticides.

    Clearly, there need to be regulations of some kind to ensure "natural" food labeling holds true to consumer expectations.

  • Prepare for Black Friday with Holiday-Themed Product Labels


    Prepare for Black Friday with Holiday-Themed Product Labels

    Are You Ready for Black Friday?

    The day after Thanksgiving has long been the busiest of the year for big box retailers, and is only a few weeks away. Businesses are granted an opportunity to significantly increase their visibility in the marketplace, inject a revenue boost right at the end of the year and hit the ground running in 2016 by focusing their efforts on strengthening Black Friday sales. Black Friday labels can work to align the brand with the event that most consumers wait for to purchase their holiday gifts.

    First and foremost, labeling strategies should be ironed out every month of the year, as there are always events that can be targeted in a customized marketing program, but this might be the most important time for manufacturers and retailers. Black Friday product labels are a great way to properly package your products for the busiest day of the year, and customizing the information therein will help the items pop off the shelf and shine brighter than others.

    Black Friday Custom Labels

    More likely than not, most companies will be taking some steps toward enhancing their product marketing and packaging for Black Friday, which can make it difficult to stand out from the crowd. However, customization is a prominent trends in branding today, as it is one of the more sure-fire ways to ensure that the products are highly differentiated from others on the shelves, all the while speaking to the specific target prospects more intimately.

    Leveraging custom labels for Black Friday products can allow companies to go outside of the norm and truly put a unique spin on their packaging schemes and marketing programs. Because so many retailers will be focused on raising awareness regarding the deals in the store, custom labels that align with these strategies will be a bit more likely to be recognized and purchased among customers who are shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

    The best Black Friday labels will serve the dual purpose of making the brand image pop and riding the coattails of the event itself in one fell swoop, and this can be accomplished with the right custom options provided by reliable printers.

    Time for Holiday Labels

    Retailers, product manufacturers, food producers and others will likely put a massive stake on the holiday shopping season when it comes to reaching annual revenue objectives and brand awareness growth. Because the time between now and the New Year will be defining for the average organization, putting a bit more time and effort into labels and other aspects of marketing should be a priority.

    Holiday labels do not necessarily have to relate back to Black Friday, but can instead align with the many major events that are right on the horizon. Working with a provider such as Lightning Labels can boost personalization success and ensure timely delivery of the stickers, decals and labels needed.

  • Capitalizing on Gluten Free Diet Awareness Month


    Capitalizing on Gluten Free Diet Awareness Month

    Gluten Free Diet Awareness Month

    Although the gluten-free diet was not well-known or commonly discussed only a decade ago, it has grown significantly as a major trend facing the food industry in the time since. Given the fact that more individuals have been diagnosed with Celiac disease, which makes the consumption of certain products containing gluten extremely dangerous and sometimes deadly, this is a serious matter that all food industry businesses must be aware of.

    November is Gluten Free Diet Awareness Month, and you can at once capitalize on the opportunities involved and support a good cause by using custom labels on your products. This event is sure to pique the interest of individuals who cannot eat gluten due to allergies, as well as those who have adjusted their diet to omit relevant ingredients simply for health and fitness purposes, and takes place during a month that is traditional busy for the industry at large.

    First, the Importance of Accuracy

    Companies must ensure that their food labels are accurate. Gluten free diet labels can help to target a niche piece of the marketplace, but that should be a secondary pursuit following the assurance that all allergens have been declared on products. When they are not, the risk of having to complete a costly recall will be higher, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safe Inspection Service has increased efforts to bring misbranding to light of late.

    This can cause lost face and hindered brand reputations, as well as immense financial loss. Furthermore, undeclared allergens can end up sickening consumers in extreme situations, and come with an entirely different and even more intense group of risks. Gluten free labels should only be placed on products that do not contain wheat, as well as barley, rye and other grains.

    Once contingencies are in place to avoid the prospect of mislabeled products, you can then begin to focus on the labels that will help to position your brand alongside Gluten Free Diet Awareness Month.

    Leveraging Gluten Free Food Labels

    You can take several approaches to getting these labels on your products in November to recognize the awareness month event. For one, you can simply incorporate stickers onto the products that direct consumers to websites and other sources of information pertaining to gluten free diets. On the other hand, you might want to go a few steps further and work toward custom gluten free labels that truly stand out from the other items on the shelves.

    Custom designs that incorporate the various ingredients and declare the items as being gluten free will likely be a bit more successful during the awareness month, while additional stickers that recognize the event itself can also be helpful. Considering the fact this is the best chance food distributors have to hit the ground running in 2016 and the time is now to contact Lightning Labels about your specific labeling needs.

  • Roundup: Recall Stories from October

    Get Serious with Labels
    Each month, several food distributors and manufacturers are called out for improper labeling practices by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service, and are forced to start expensive recalls on the products involved. Although plenty of these alerts deal with adulteration from various food-borne diseases, many are entirely avoidable given the fact that they begin with misbranding or poor accuracy on the labels themselves. 

    Companies can save themselves from a world of trouble, stress and financial loss by ensuring that their labeling strategies are tight, properly monitored and always accurate. When recalls occur, it can hurt the brand's image in the eyes of current and prospective clientele, even when the severity of the mistake is not all that dangerous. There were several recalls of note this past month that show how problematic these errors can be. 

    Losing the Throne
    The FSIS reported that Royal Frozen Foods was forced to recall roughly 230 pounds of its products for several mishaps that could have been easily avoided. The firm essentially did not have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plan in place at the time of distribution, which is a requirement under food safety regulations that all manufacturers need to follow before shipping their products. 

    What's more, Royal Frozen Foods also did not declare an allergen, specifically egg, and did not have USDA inspection stickers on the products given the fact that there was no evaluation by the regulator. 

    Good, not Great
    FSIS forced Good Food Concepts to recall a massive sum of its poultry, pork and beef products this month due to misbranding and, like Royal Frozen Foods, the lack of a comprehensive HAACP program in place to govern ingredients declared. According to the regulator, the firm had to recall 12,566 pounds of its products for these reasons, as they contained sodium nitrite without any declaration of the ingredient. 

    Considering the fact that a relatively small recall can be devastating to the bottom line at the end of each year, this volume will almost certainly put the distributor back a ways in its revenue goals for 2015. Additionally, this could hurt prospects for the firm moving into 2016, even though the undeclared ingredients are not as dangerous as others. 

    Meatloaf Gone Awry
    New Jersey-based Taylor Farms had to recall 276 pounds of meatloaf for a lack of accuracy in its brand packaging and declaration of ingredients, the FSIS reported. This particular issue was not only related to misbranding and a missing declaration of wheat, soy and egg ingredients - each of which have become more risky due to allergens in the past few years - but also due to a lack of inspection. 

    Inspection is not optional, and when distributors do not go through this process they are all but assuring that they will have to pull their products off of the shelves before long. 

    Looking Forward
    There were several other recalls due to the inspection issue, but food distributors need to first ensure that they are accurately labeling their products before even getting them evaluated by the USDA. Chances are that these missteps were not purposeful, but rather oversights that could have been entirely avoided with a stronger labeling practices strategy. 

    In addition to ironing out these policies and putting contingencies in place to ensure that no ingredient that could cause a reaction in consumers goes out undeclared, companies should use a labeling service provider that can follow the orders accurately. Putting a little more effort in these matters can save companies from loss. 

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