Labeling Rules & Regulations

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    Food Safety Product Labeling Must Have Allergens in Mind

    Careful Food Safety Product Labeling a Must

    When you're launching a new food or beverage product, listing possible allergens is one of the most important steps on your to-do list. Unless you take this process extremely seriously, you may be forced to issue a costly recall. Producers of food and beverage products can ill afford to make a mistake or oversight in their lists of potential allergens. This is what makes food safety product labeling an absolute must for food and beverage producers.

    Relevant Rules

    A recent JD Supra article by product liability advocacy law firm Wilson Elser offered a reminder that not only are allergen mislabeling problems serious for companies, they're happening at a worrying rate. For instance, there were 650 food recalls carried out in 2016. That's way up from the 154 that occurred 10 years earlier. Most of the allergen issues are clustered around the eight major allergens that must be labeled per Food and Drug Administration rules: milk, fish, eggs, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soybeans.

    Wilson Elser added that food producers' diligence goes beyond checking foods themselves for the relevant allergens - if there is any possibility of cross-contamination with relevant items, that is cause for labeling attention as well. Whether labeling takes place at the production, manufacturing or distribution stage of the supply chain, this is one responsibility that's impossible to set aside. Considering the seriousness of allergic reactions, customers' health could be at risk.

    Diligence in Action

    Packaging safety consultant Gary Kestenbaum, writing for Packaging Digest, noted that many recall apologies from brands explain that the company allocated its resources to areas other than labeling and notification, thus leading to the problems. The author suggested that companies reject this philosophy and have full-scale identification efforts to ensure allergen listings - all other relevant parts of food packaging - are accurate. He explained that while it may seem excessive to add extra steps to production, the savings from avoiding recalls can be considerable.

    While your company may be too small to implement the kind of extensive, multi-individual chain of responsibility recommended by Kestenbaum, his point is well taken: When businesses not only focus on their packaging but have multiple rounds of checking and verification to ensure they haven't missed anything, their food products stand a better chance of going out to store shelves wholly accurate, removing the need for a costly recall down the line.

    Recent Recalls

    There's no need to speak in generalities about the risk of recalls due to inadequate allergen labeling - it happens all the time. For instance, the Department of Agriculture recently reported a recall of 150 pounds of ready-to-eat couscous due to the undeclared presence of pecans. Pecans are a tree nut, one of the aforementioned allergens that producers need to declare in all cases.

    In another recent USDA action, the agency noted 30,537 pounds of frozen burritos were subject to recall. The issue was twofold for the burritos, as they contain egg and soy, neither of which was declared on the packaging. While the couscous problem was noticed by the supermarket distributing the items, the presence of egg and soy in the burritos was flagged as part of a customer complaint. There are numerous ways for labeling inadequacies to come to light, from inspections to input from the public.

    Getting Food Safety Product Labels

    When it's time to print a new batch of food labels for one of your products, there's no need to skimp on quality. After all, you've worked hard to ensure they are completely accurate and reflect the contents of your items. All that effort will go to waste if low printing quality renders the labels unappealing visually. Working with an experienced printer such as Lightning Labels is one way to give your food products a look that can stand out on the shelves while still giving adequate space to ingredients listings and all other relevant info.

    Since Lightning Labels uses all-digital printing processes and works from domestic facilities instead of outsourcing, your labels will arrive in a matter of days, rather than weeks or months. This can be a remarkably helpful factor, ensuring that the printing step doesn't slow down the overall process of getting labels for a new product. Of course, an item's debut isn't the only good time to call on Lightning Labels - you can also commit to a redesign to suit a new season or simply to breathe new life into your branding.

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  • Product Labels: Legal Action Remains Common

    Challenges Go to Court

    Choosing your words carefully is essential when designing product labels, as when customers feel deceived by a package, they don't just stop buying - they sue. There are reputation and financial effects to claims that don't match consumers' perceptions, and letting these matters go to court can prove time-consuming and costly.

    Complying with all relevant labeling laws and restrictions is a starting point for companies, rather than the maximum diligence brands should show. Using phrases that have not been legally ruled on in the past, but are taken as deceptive by customers, could lead to your organization becoming cited as a future precedent, spending a lot of money on settlements before the dust settles.

    Headline News

    The following are three recent examples of incidents when product labeling promises ended up leading to court cases. Each is at a different stage of litigation, but they all serve as illustrative examples of the kinds of things consumers take issue with. From the place an item is from to the nature of its ingredients or even whether it has health benefits or not, these issues run the gamut.

    Costco Pays Nearly a Million

    A recent judgment has cost supermarket chain Costco, to the tune of $775,000. The money may pale in comparison to the heavy lifting the brand now has to do to change its packaging, however. According to Law 360, the issue centered on the word "healthy" with regard to coconut oil. Buyers of the product took issue with the fact that the drink incorporated a heavy dose of saturated fat. Now, to settle the case, Costco has agreed to strike the word "health" and "health benefits."

    In fact, no matter how the suit was resolved, the words would have likely been gone for good. The labeling change was executed during the course of the case, the source noted. In a note that may be relevant to other companies facing legal product label challenges, Costco moved for dismissal in mid-2016 on the grounds that the plaintiffs didn't prove their health had actually been damaged by the saturated fat, but that wasn't enough to sway the judge.

    Ginger Ale Ingredient Listing Questioned

    A separate Law 360 report noted that Canada Dry will have to fight a court battle over its claim that real ginger is present in its soda. The brand asked the judge to call the case off on grounds that it is not precise enough. The judge, however, ruled that the suit will proceed, at least on the core issue of whether a "real ginger" label is deceptive.

    The attorney for Canada Dry suggested that since the brand doesn't make claims about pharmaceutical health benefits, it's not the kind of matter that should be litigated in a fraud proceeding. The judge threw out the allegation that there is fraud occurring but allowed the plaintiffs to rephrase and submit it again. The plaintiffs claim that they would have paid less - or not bought the soda at all - if they knew there was just "natural flavoring" from ginger roots, rather than ginger being directly involved in the creation of the drink.

    Where Is This Beer From?

    The issue of regional origin is a major packaging element. According to a Washington Legal Foundation post for Forbes, it has become the latest battleground for attorneys who want to "earn an easy buck" off of brands. The case promoting this assessment involves Kona, a beer brand associated with Hawaii. The current suit alleges that since the brand's products sold in the U.S. mainland are not brewed on the islands of Hawaii, the packaging is deceptive, even though the company is based in Hawaii and does have a brewery there.

    The same kind of theory is behind a suit that alleges Japanese brand Sapporo is being deceptive with the Japan-centric promotional copy on its products sold and brewed elsewhere. The news provider noted that there has been pushback against this kind of suit - but not enough to stop it yet.

    Are Your Product Labels Ready?

    Once your brand has decided on product label copy that won't end up challenged in court, it's time to print those labels and make them look as visually impressive as possible. This is where Lightning Labels can help. With all-digital processes in place, you'll get your new-look labels in a hurry.

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  • Front-of-Package Food Label Calorie Counts Get a Surprising Ally

    Should You List More Information on Food Labels?

    Some food labeling priorities aren't optional - they're required by law. The new look of the Nutrition Facts label falls into this category. On the other hand, there are elements of food product labels that you can either include or leave out based on what you think will resonate most with your customer base. Putting a large amount of nutritional information on the front of a food label is one of these choices. Will consumers appreciate your honesty? This approach has recently receive a boost from an unlikely source.

    Hershey's = Healthy?

    Candy giant Hershey Co. has committed to a wide variety of health initiatives over the next few years, extending from the ingredients it chooses for its confections to the labeling strategies it employs. This includes front-of-pack calorie labels across its individually wrapped candies, in both regular portions and "king sizes." This is a bold approach for a manufacturer of sweets, but it's all part of a plan: Making calorie information easily visible coincides with an effort to ensure each of those candies contains 200 calories or fewer.

    The effort to become a more health-conscious Hershey's will also encompass new king-size packaging details designed to encourage buyers to either share the bigger candy bars with other people or to eat them a little at a time. The dual commitment to reducing calorie counts and displaying them shows the critical elements of a such initiatives: Once you've made products that fit into healthy consumers' diets, it's time to use that content as a selling point.

    Looking at Chile's Example

    Front-of-pack food labeling can serve as an overall indicator of an item's nutritional content, and an especially compelling one, given its prominent visual place. In 2015, the Center for Science in the Public Interest issued praise for Chile's redesign of its labeling laws to ensure that the fronts of items containing high amounts of risky elements receive warning labels.

    The warnings, octagonally shaped to resemble stop signs, advise consumers about to buy products that have large amounts of refined sugars, saturated fat, calories or sodium. The CSPI noted that there was a recommendation that the FDA adopt a system of mandatory front-of-pack labeling, spearheaded by the Institute of Medicine in 2011. The FDA did not react at the time.

    It's All Situational

    As to the effect front-of-pack food labels might have on consumer preferences, Science Daily reported that University of Arkansas and University of Mississippi researchers teamed up to measure these panels' influence. They found that when consumers are evaluating single items, specific labels containing quantifiable information helped them make decisions. In cases when they are comparing multiple items, evaluative labels are more useful.

    Something to Think About

    While your brand presses ahead in dealing with the new Nutrition Facts panel, other labeling options are worth considering. If your products are healthy enough to be selected on the basis of their nutritional content, being more explicit about that information could be a selling point, especially with consumers who value honesty and are impressed with brands that provide facts. If even a giant of the candy world considers itself healthy enough to embrace front-of-pack calorie counts, there is likely a wide-open market for this kind of disclosure.

    Nutritional information, required and optional alike, is one category of element you can include in any labeling redesign. If it's been a while since you updated your food labels, you can contact a provider such as Lightning Labels to see the possibilities for your brand. When you're making a change for one reason - such as getting in compliance with the latest Nutrition Facts revisions - you can embrace other revisions at the same time, adding compelling elements shoppers will appreciate.

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  • Natural Claims on Food Labels: Sometimes Confusing, Always Important

    Food Labels: What Do Consumers Want to Know?

    Any food product could be described, accurately, in dozens of different ways. Knowing which types of claims are most interesting to your consumers, and allowed by government regulations, could transform your labeling strategy for the better. A preoccupation with healthy eating and nutrition is one of the major shopping trends animating present-day consumers, and when it's time for a label refresh, you can implement these elements to improve your offerings.

    Stating the Obvious?

    The power of perception and phrasing when it comes to food product labeling became clear in University of Illinois research, according to Agri News. In the study, consumers were asked which promises meant the most to them. The responses were surprising in that "organic" ranked at the bottom of the priority list, while claims such as "no growth hormones" dominated. There is a special kind of significance to this being the top choice, as growth hormones are actually banned in farm-grown products.

    The researchers noted that the study results show the potential value of making claims on food package labels. Brands that note they have no growth hormones in their food products may have more appeal than those that don't, despite the fact that neither company uses any of those substances, as they are both in compliance with the law. According to Agri Business, there is actually a stipulation that companies claiming "no growth hormones" have to note in small print that of course there aren't growth hormones, as the government prohibits them.

    Customer education on what different terms mean may change the landscape of favored packaging labels. Agri Business reported that Breanna Ellison, the study's lead researcher, pointed to the "organic" distinction as a case in point. When a meat product receives such a label, it means the animals in question were not subjected to many of the processes consumers were asked about - yet they still ranked those individual assurances as more important than "organic." More knowledge about what organic means when not applied to fruit or vegetables, but to meat or poultry.

    Preferences and Requirements for Food Labels

    Sometimes, terms consumers want to see and legal requirements become intertwined. Genetically modified organism labeling is an example of this phenomenon. Agri Business noted that "non-GMO" is the No. 2 concern about food contents, just following growth hormones. Of course, the presence or absence of GMOs has also been a legislative priority over the past few years. The Fence Post recently reported that the Department of Agriculture is currently working on a compliance schedule and rules for disclosure.

    The Fence Post explained that the new administration's chief agriculture aide, Ray Starling has restated the USDA's intention to follow the schedule for labeling rules laid out by congress. That means that by July 2018, there will be clarity about how companies have to state the presence of genetically modified ingredients. The actual roll-out for related labels, however, will be later to allow manufacturers to comply. Starling clarified that the USDA following the law and finalizing the standard won't result in unfeasible compliance deadlines.

    Mandated and Intentional Changes

    Whether your brand changes its food labels to comply with new disclosure rules or as a direct attempt to appeal to a new audience, there's a need to partner with reliable third parties on such projects. This is where Lightning Labels comes in, providing high-quality labels and not requiring large minimum order sizes. That latter fact means that even when changes are mandated, you won't be left with unusable rolls of outdated labels. Transforming your products' look to foreground their natural bona fides can become a powerful differentiator for your brand, promising your audience that their nutritional needs are being met.

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  • Product Label Claims: Another Busy Year Ahead

    Keep Watching for New Product Label Rules

    Even if product labeling was just a struggle between brands trying to win customers' eyes with their compelling designs, it would be a challenging and complicated field. It's so much more than that, however. No matter what type of products your company manufactures or sells, you've likely felt the impact of rules and regulations about what you can and should print on your labels.

    Obliging and complying with relevant product labeling rules doesn't just mean memorizing policies and relaxing, either. There are real, meaningful changes to those laws every year and a failure to keep up with these updates can lead to regulatory trouble. This is yet another reason to work with a product labeling partner capable of quick turnaround times and short print runs - the resulting agility will help you change strategy if a new rule comes into effect.

    A Year of Product Labeling Changes in Food and Beverage

    A legal alert from law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck recently pointed out that the Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture both have relevant rules coming into effect during the year ahead. These include the new uniform genetically modified organism labeling law, as well as the final ruling on what "healthy" can mean following a period of comment and revision. Adding further uncertainty to the situation is the fact that there is always the potential that rules will change or be blocked.

    The law firm indicated that there is "significant potential" for the GMO rules to not make their anticipated July 2018 roll-out date. This is due to the fact that affected producers may challenge the rules. In addition, there is a general antipathy to adding new regulations to the books among members of the current Republican administration.

    Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck added that organizations may find themselves changing their labeling strategies multiple times over a few short months, especially if the GMO ruling does come into effect but is delayed. Complying with the FDA's new rules governing nutrition facts will force one change, then the GMO law another. This warning is a clear indication that labeling systems should be ready for shake-ups and quick changes.

    Made in the USA Disputes

    Where a product is made could also become a subject of debate and enforcement, according to a separate legal alert, this one by Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. The law firm pointed out that the Federal Trade Commission has stepped up its inspection and enforcement efforts concerning products that claim to be made in the U.S.A.

    Drinker Biddle & Reath explained that the new administration may have an effect on this labeling issue as well. Due to the current focus on using goods and materials manufactured domestically, there is every chance for more stringent enforcement of items that claim to be U.S.-made. The law firm added that state rules differ and companies should inspect these regulations to be absolutely sure they qualify before making such a claim.

    When it comes to working with suppliers, manufacturers should ensure they have documentation of the supply chain. Finding out that a domestic materials claim isn't verifiable could be a costly mistake for a company to make. The legal alert noted that claims with qualifiers, perhaps specifying that materials are not domestic but the product was assembled in the U.S., tend to pass FTC muster - as long as they're true and can be supported.

    Product Labeling on High Alert

    When there are potential labeling rule changes in the pipeline - and these days there seemingly always are - it pays to have a responsive and agile product labeling partner. Lightning Labels, with its all-digital processes and domestic facilities, is able to turn orders around in days, not weeks or months. This is the kind of company you need in your corner.

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  • Incomplete Product Labeling Leads to Recalls

    Are Your Product Labels Up to Date?

    Product labeling is one of the major regulatory necessities any food or beverage producer has to check off when getting products to market. If you make an omission from an ingredients listing or fail to affix a mandated safety label, the result could be a lengthy and costly recall process. When laying out your product labels, you should be mindful of every piece of information consumers are required to know.

    To show what happens when brands fail to live up to these standards, here is a list of recent recalls due to omissions or inaccuracies on product labels:

    Incomplete Listings Bring Recalls

    There are several circumstances that can lead to a product recall. For instance, goods that may be contaminated by unintended ingredients or outside substances are frequently pulled from shelves. This listing will focus only on recalls based on label contents, however. This shows that even if a product itself is manufactured correctly and up to standards, a failure to get the packaging right can still cause a full-scale recall effort.

    1. Gerber Baby Food NBC affiliate KTLX recently reported on Gerber's recall of one of its many baby food products. The item in question, Cheese Ravioli Pasta Pick-Ups, does not disclose the presence of egg allergens as required. The producer's mistake was subtle: Egg does appear on the list of ingredients, but is not present on a "contains" list designed to disclose potential allergens. In worst case scenarios, the product could cause an allergic reaction in people sensitive to eggs who aren't alerted to the ingredient's presence, hence the recall.

    2. Whiskey Hill Jerky The United States Department of Agriculture announced a recall of Whiskey Hill Smokehouse, LLC's jerky products. As with the Gerber situation, these items contain an undisclosed allergen. In Whiskey Hill's case, however, the ingredient is soy instead of egg. This example shows just how wide a swath of products can be recalled, as the order hits jerky made from beef, venison and ostrich meat.

    3. Sunshine Bakery Cakes Sometimes, brands snap into action before a federal agency demands a recall. According to an FDA release issued through US Recall News, Sunshine Bakery decided to voluntarily call back two of its cake varieties - the cassava cake and the mixed nut mooncake. As with the above issues, the problem here is an undisclosed allergen or, rather, several. Sunshine's products contain peanut, coconut, almond and cashew allergens. Some of the recalled items additionally include sunflower seeds.

    4. Picone Meat Specialties In today's final example, 5,750 pounds of salami are going back to Picone Meat Specialties, LTD. The USDA recall is because of the presence of non-fat dry milk. The USDA's statement on this action shows the process behind an agency-mandated recall. The Food Safety and Inspection Service, a division of the USDA, performed a check of Picone's salami and found that there were undisclosed ingredients present. The recall was a direct result due to the fact that non-fat dry milk is one of the FSIS's known allergens.

    Keep Up with Product Labeling

    Clearly, you don't want to end up in one of the situations described above. Avoiding the challenging logistics of recalling 5,000 pounds of salami - or anything else - should be a top priority. When working on label design, you should carefully review them to ensure small mistakes don't end up costing your business time and money.

    Considering the changes coming to food rules in the immediate future, labeling for your products should be on your mind right now even before taking recall risks into consideration. Updated nutrition facts listing rules are coming in the years ahead, meaning you have yet another regulatory compliance hurdle to jump. For all these challenges, however, some elements of the labeling process can be easy - provided you work with the right third party.

    Lightning Labels can be a valuable partner for a small or medium-sized food or beverage producer, offering quick turnaround times and small minimum order sizes. The latter fact may prove especially helpful in the years ahead. Changes to regulations are fairly common, and brands that are forced to order large amounts of product labels at once may end up with noncompliant and unusable labels once new rules pass. Low minimums also leave brands free to redesign their packaging often to let their look change with the seasons.

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  • The Latest Food Labeling Terminology Battles

    Choosing Your Messaging Carefully

    When it comes to labeling your food and beverage products, making claims about their content is a delicate matter. The motivation behind promoting nutritional value is clear: Consumers today are interested in eating healthy, and the right suggestion might win them over. However, you'll have to be ready to back your claims up. When companies overstep what they're allowed to promote, they tend to end up in legal trouble. Which particular words are regulated for use in packaging tends to change over time - this, too, is something you'll have to keep an eye on.

    Below are a few examples of what can happen when a company makes a claim that doesn't convince consumers. These stories show the value of getting onto solid footing with your promises of nutritional value.

    The Battle Over '100%'

    What does it mean to be 100 percent Parmesan cheese? This strange question is at the center of a current legal case covered by Law360. The source pointed out that food production giant Kraft is a defendant in this case, along with Target, Safeway and more. Grated Parmesan cheese is the item in question. The arguments in the case are based on what exactly that percentage entails when it's on a label. The plaintiffs state that it's a false promise to contain no other ingredients. The defense has countered that it means 100 percent grated and 100 Parmesan, with no other varieties of cheese.

    As the case continues, the FDA has made its presence felt, if only indirectly. Defense attorneys say the agency previously approved the product's use of cellulose, but the plaintiffs believe the previous standard is not relevant to the current case. They claim the FDA approval is just based on the process behind aging the cheese, rather than its labeling in the final form. The case is ongoing, so it's unclear where it is going.

    What Can 'Skim Milk' Be?

    The Associated Press noted another labeling-based case, this time based on the use of the words "skim milk." A small creamery in Florida was forced to defend its use of the term against the Florida Department of Agriculture. The news provider noted that a new federal appeals court ruling has sided with the dairy rather than the government agency, overturning a previous case. The crux of the issue is whether milk without added Vitamin A, can be called "skim."

    The AP explained that the creamery, which focuses on natural products without additives, didn't want to augment the milk with the vitamin. It also found the state agency's demand - that it calls its product "imitation" skim milk - unacceptable. It's easy to see that such a suggestion could seriously undercut the authority of a brand targeting consumers who like natural items. The Department of Agriculture's case revolved around the legal meaning of skim milk as a product augmented to the nutritional value of whole milk, in defiance of the dictionary definition of "skim milk," which is just milk separated from cream.

    Choosing Your Claims Carefully

    What kinds of promises do you want to make about your products? Seeing reports on cases such as the above should act as ample warning to study precedent and stay away from suggestions that could land your brand in trouble. Once you've decided on safe and accurate descriptions for your products, it's time to print up visually arresting labels.

    Working with a provider such as Lightning Labels can give your product packaging the fidelity it needs to stand out on the shelves, with the text and imagery describing your products presented clearly. Shoppers will be interested in what you have to say, so once you've made your decision, you should find a capable partner to print up your promises on compelling Custom food labels.

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  • Custom Cosmetic Labels - Going Beyond FDA Rules to Inform Cosmetics Customers

    Custom Cosmetic Labels Capture the Trust of Your Audience

    When cosmetics are your main product, establishing a trust-based relationship with your customers is an important element of securing your future. After all, customers who abandon your brand after one purchase aren't likely to sustain the company for any significant length of time. You need strong bonds with shoppers, an audience of consumers who feel well-served by your products and will therefore continue using them for years. This is the recipe for reliable revenue, and it can all begin with met expectations.

    Go Beyond FDA Requirements

    While the FDA does regulate some of the elements of cosmetics labeling, there are terms and promises you can employ without the department's approval. Of course, you should still be very careful with your deployment of these descriptors to ensure a bond of trust persists between you and your customers. Someone who feels misled by the promises on a label isn't likely to come back.

    The American Academy of Dermatology recently released a report through Science Daily specifying areas where shoppers may end up feeling deceived by cosmetics manufacturers. Ensuring your brand's bath and body packaging is straightforward and clear in these areas can set you head-and-shoulders above brands that take advantage of the lack of regulation to overuse the terms and deceive shoppers.

    For instance, dermatologist Rajani Katta stated in the AAD article that there is a glut of current brands using the term "all-natural." She added that this is not a meaningful descriptor in skin care, as there are plenty of elements that come from nature but don't help the body at all. Furthermore, combining basic ingredients with preservatives is a common practice in the beauty product field. If consumers catch on to brands deceiving them with such labels, they may become jaded. Your options with this label include using it only when it's absolutely truthful or simply avoiding it as overuse saps it of meaning.

    Katta added that when products say they are suitable for sensitive skin, there is no authority forcing them to prove this. In the absence of an FDA rule, your bond with customers should guide your use of such claims. If you place such a promise on a cosmetic product that then goes on to aggravate skin, you could lose the trust of consumers.

    What the FDA Can Regulate

    The fact that there are cosmetics brands taking liberties with labeling is worrying, as it may lessen trust in the bath and body industry as a whole. The agency isn't completely toothless, however. In late 2016, law firm Shook Hardy and Bacon LLP released a Lexology article about a wave of warning letters issued by the FDA to counteract dishonest use of claims on beauty product labels.

    It's interesting to see what types of marketing copy are unacceptable under current guidelines. For instance, the warning letters made a point of targeting brands that boast about the "age defying" nature of their products. Furthermore, items that claim to minimize lines, wrinkles and spots on skin received letters. Medical claims are also shaky ground: Companies that say their offerings can regenerate tissue, produce collagen, act as a surgery alternative or provide other healing and anti-inflammatory benefits have been given warnings.

    The law firm explained that the line between beautifying agents and medical products is the current boundary for the FDA's authority. The agency is becoming aggressive about items that claim to be the latter, with enforcement seemingly more strict than in the past. Companies that walk this line should ensure they aren't overstepping their authority.

    Custom Cosmetic Label Excellence

    When creating bath and body packaging, the content is only one element to think about. You also have to consider the physical quality of the labels, paying heed to resolution, materials and finishes. If you work with substances that aren't strong enough to withstand storage in consumers' bathrooms, your items' packaging may end up worn down, with your carefully designed logo unrecognizable by the time consumers have used up the products and are ready to buy more. The way to avoid this fate, and to combine high-quality imagery with tough and attractive labels, is to work with a third party such as Lightning Labels. Lightning Labels offers a wide variety of waterproof materials and finishes that will keep your accurate and compelling bath and body product labels looking great, no matter where customers store the items.

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  • The Importance of 'Not for Kids' Custom Warning Labels on Your Cannabis Products

    Keep Kids Safe With Custom Warning Labels For Cannabis Products

    The founding of a whole new industry is an exciting time. With every business idea seemingly tried, this phenomenon has become very rare. The legal cannabis market is the exception that proves the rule.

    If you're striking into this evolving space, then you already know the importance of staking your place with great products and compelling packaging. However, there are a few important restrictions to keep in mind as you set up your legal cannabis business. For instance, you need to ensure your products sport clear custom warning labels to indicate that they are for adult consumption only.

    Laws Require Labels

    Where legal recreational marijuana goes, related products follow. Cannabis-based snacks are one of the most popular derivatives, and also one of the most likely to be accidentally ingested by kids, mistaking them for regular candy or brownies. As The Observer recently reported, Washington state-based businesses now have to apply "not for kids" warning labels to any edible cannabis products they sell. This includes drinks infused with pot and also covers topical ointments that are applied to the skin instead of eaten.

    The logo is mandated by the state and cannot be changed except to modify its size. That freedom to resize the warning has its limits, too, as it can't be smaller than three-fourths inch by one-half inch. The law in this state appears to be based on actual cases of accidental ingestion, as The Observer reported cases of increased emergency calls related to children eating pot-infused products.

    Of course, the fact that this is a Washington law instead of a national rule shows off one of the peculiarities of the cannabis industry. There is a patchwork of rules and regulations across the country, and it will only expand as more states allow sales. You have to both study the laws on the books for your state and be prepared to change with the times as more restrictions and stipulations pass.

    One potential winning strategy to cope with an evolving legal situation is to get ahead of the curve. Even if your state doesn't mandate "not for kids" warning labels, implementing it willingly could be a great way to show the community that you care about children's health and want to make sure your items are only used by people who are old enough.

    A Partner That Can Evolve

    When you're deeply invested in a young, changing industry, it pays to work with labeling partners that are flexible and agile. Having to order huge quantities of cannabis labels could leave you stuck with stock you can't use due to regulatory changes passed in the interim. Lightning Labels' all-digital processes enable low minimum order sizes and lightning-fast turnaround times, letting you keep up with the torrid pace of the developing legal cannabis market.

    As the industry inevitably changes, with labeling laws evolving from state to state - and potentially at the federal level - you need to keep pace. In matters such as cannabis warning labels, it may even pay to be ahead of the curve. Lightning Labels is the ally you need to take this perspective.

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  • Grocery Giants Get on Board with "Best if Used By" Label

    New Labeling Rule Seeing Attention

    If you produce food or beverage products, you likely employ some sort of expiration date to tell when customers how long the items stay at maximum freshness. However, the way you present that information may be very different from other organizations that sell that type of product - at least for now. Out of concern that unclear and inconsistent labeling is causing food waste, industry groups have launched efforts to standardize these dates.

    When this story was last in the news, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was promoting a new approach which would center the whole industry around a "best if used by" label instead of the divergent phrases currently in use. Now, more than a month has passed, and major organizations seem poised to take the USDA up on its suggestion.

    The Grocery Industry Acts

    According to Produce Grower, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association are spearheading a voluntary program under which food producers will employ "best if used by" labels in all cases except when an item becomes dangerous after a certain date. In those rare cases, there will be a "use by" label, containing a date when the item in question should be discarded. The groups hope to have the new wording in place by mid-2018, which means companies should start implementing it in production as soon as possible.

    The GMA and FMI are touting positive industry reactions to their move, according to Produce Grower. Frank Yiannis, Wal-Mart's vice president of food safety and health, issued a supportive statement, as did Dean Foods Vice President of Quality Jack Jeffers. These executives praised the simplicity of having a united system, as well as the potential to prevent food waste that such a standard might bring about - consumers who are less confused about whether food has gone bad will be less likely to throw away items that are still usable, as the theory goes.

    The two organizations pointed out that there are currently over 10 ways to give a freshness date. This overabundance of information is sure to confuse at least some consumers.

    Looking back at the FDA announcement

    Though the FMI and GMA describe their program as voluntary, it takes many of its cues from the FDA suggestions. In December, Food Processing reported on the FDA's guidance regarding the "best if used by" label. The agency did note that there are no actual regulations about how to label food expiration. There is one type of package where such labels are mandatory - infant formula does currently have laws regarding use by dates.

    Food Processing noted that testing and thought went into the selection of the words "best if used by." Rather than being a mandatory choice from among the many styles of expiration dates in use, the phrase was picked because it was found to be the least likely to lead to food waste. The word "best" shows that its a marker of quality rather than safety, and "used by" eliminates ambiguity about the fact it is aimed at consumers rather than retailers.

    Time to Update Labels

    The announcement of the FSI and GMA standard has given a sense of urgency to the shift to a new labeling style. With the organizations stating that producers should switch things up as soon as possible, it's a clear indication that you should make sure your very next batch of product labels has the new phrasing. Working with a reliable and fast label provider such as Lightning Labels makes such changes of direction not just possible but simple. Low minimum order sizes ensure that even if you produce niche items, you don't need large quantities of outdated labels lying around. Quick shifts in style become achievable.

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