Looking at the Road Ahead for Food Labeling

Eyes on Upcoming Changes

If you operate in the food manufacturing industry, your product labels change every few years. Even if you decide to stay aesthetically consistent, there are shifting regulations to comply with. In a way, these new rules are a good thing. If you have to switch up the way you list ingredients, nutrition facts and more, these enforced changes serve as great reminders to change other parts of your label designs and keep them fresh. Provided you have a helpful and capable third party handing your labeling needs, making periodic adjustments is a good approach to design.

Now, with 2017 just underway, it's time to think about which requirements and rules are likely to either change this year or at least move toward new drafts. Will the new administration in Washington enforce new national laws, or roll them back? Or will the wheels set in motion in years past turn uninterrupted? Will states work on individual standards? Will industry-specific or overarching guidelines prove more influential this year? These questions and more will set the scene for 2017.

Looking Back and Awaiting Guidance

A Lexology article from law firm McGuireWoods LLP predicted the major themes affecting food and beverage labeling, explaining that legal action against labels has picked up. With the FDA considering new rules for when "natural" and "healthy" apply to products, some of the class actions have been set aside until the federal agency makes its recommendations. However, there are plenty of cases ongoing. The law firm pointed to appellate courts as the site of a significant amount of labeling-related legal wrangling.

When it comes to concepts that will be ruled on in 2017, possibly leading to new rules or standards, McGuireWoods LLP suggested that trans fats, the word "craft," claims that items were "made in the U.S.A." and more could be the hot topics. The source explained that similar cases filed in the recent past could work their way up to the supreme court, yielding judgments that set precedent for the food and beverage industries.

As for labeling issues to watch outside the legal system, the law firm pointed to two of the most popular recent sagas ongoing in the food and beverage industry. These are the passage of national GMO labeling rules and the FDA's ongoing quest for consistency and clarity when it comes to making claims on packages. It may seem redundant to watch these cases - you may have gotten downright sick of them in 2016 - but it pays not to look away. These guidelines might be very relevant for your next packaging revision.

Restricting Waste

Another rule that has previously drawn attention, but will remain relevant in the year ahead, is the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service's new guidance on expiration dates. Columbus Dispatch columnist Lisa Abraham explained that this is one of the "buzz" topics affecting food manufacturers at the moment, as it standardizes information that has never had universal guidelines before. For every type of product except baby formula, the introduction of standard language and a regular dating approach is a new wrinkle.

The overall goal behind the program is reducing food waste, encouraging consumers not to throw away items that are still safe. The steps toward this objective include the uniform use of the term "best if used by," which makes it clear that the date is a measure of optimal quality, rather than safety. The USDA performed testing and determined that "best if used by" is the most likely phrase to elicit this kind of response from consumers.

Abraham noted that the numbers indicate waste by consumers is a major overall cause of food going uneaten, and there will have to be progress in this arena if the USDA is to reach its ambitious overall waste reduction goals. For instance, the agency believes that either retailers or customers throw out 30 percent of the total wasted food in the country, just because they are unsure whether it's still safe to eat. With an overall aim of cutting waste by half in the next 13 years, and eventually preventing food waste from reaching landfills, the USDA is moving ahead with the new label style.

Ready to Change

The trends described above are likely to force you to print out new product labels within the next two years. However, if you're only updating your food and beverage items' appearance when legally required to do so, you are likely behind the curve. Changing a product's look is a great way to make that item draw consumers' eyes, and when you work with a labeling partner capable of printing high-quality custom labels in reasonable amounts, it's easy to make periodic updates.

Working with Lightning Labels as your trusted third party makes a lot of sense - true to its name, Lightning Labels is fast and responsive, available to give your custom labels a new look whether you're updating your packages due to a legal requirement, or just to make them more appealing.

Material Descriptions

Materials

BIOSTONE

One of our eco-friendly options that is actually made of stone—no trees are used. This material should not laminated.

CAST GLOSS

This is another material specially designed for the wine industry. It is paper-based with a high-gloss white finish. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CHROME (SILVER) BOPP

This material has the same water and oil-resistant properties as our White BOPP and Clear BOPP, but has the "mirror-like" look of shiny chrome.

CLASSIC CREST

Best suited for wine labels, this is a white paper stock with a dull matte finish. It is not suitable for lamination and is therefore not waterproof. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CLEAR BOPP

This is the clear version of the Polypropylene (BOPP) material. It has the same waterproof qualities as the White BOPP. It provides more of a "no label" look and is also suitable for window stickers (where reverse printing of the image allows the label to be applied to the inside of a glass window and be viewed from the outside).

ESTATE #9

This is a great option for wine labels, gourmet foods or applications where a textured finish is desired. Being a paper stock, it's not as water-resistant or durable as BOPP, but its light cream color and textured feel add a touch of the "unusual" to the right product. It features a special adhesive (removable in 100+ degree hot water) and a stronger liner particularly suited to machine application. Not suitable for lamination.

GOLD POLYESTER (METALIZED)

This material will make your labels shine! Suitable for most labeling applications, it has a strong adhesive backing and must be laminated. Choose glossy laminate to make your label designs pop, or matte for a unique, elegant look.

KRAFT (RECYCLED)

This is a recycled 100% post consumer waste material. It is a 55# paper material that is a wonderful option if an “earthy” appearance is desired. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water. It is not suitable for lamination; therefore, it is not water or oil resistant.

REMOVABLE WHITE BOPP

This material is the same as our standard BOPP, but has a special, "less aggressive" adhesive designed to allow the label to be removed or re-positioned after application. Depending on the surface it will be applied to, customer testing is strongly recommended. We can provide samples for this purpose.

SATIN CLOTH

Quite the unique material! Yes, it is woven satin acetate cloth. Think wine or spirit labels! This material will make your product packaging POP. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

SQUEEZABLE

A white, 3mil film that is better suited for squeezable applications. This material has proven to work well in a variety of applications, so you can be confident it will perform well for you.

VELLUM (RECYCLED)

A great “green” choice, this 60# vellum is 100% recycled with 100% post consumer waste material. Cannot be laminated. Is neither water nor oil-resistant. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

WHITE BOPP

This is our most commonly used material and is suitable for most applications. It's a polypropylene material with a permanent adhesive. It is impervious to water and oils, and is particularly suitable for bath and body products, as well as food containers.

WHITE EARTHFIRST PLA

A more environmentally friendly alternative to White BOPP. The PLA stands for Polylactic Acid (a biopolymer made from corn rather than petrochemicals). Similar look and feel to BOPP and suitable for most applications, but should not be used directly on candle containers.

WHITE FLEXIBLE VINYL

This is our most substantial material. The vinyl is thicker than BOPP, and is most suitable for outdoor applications where greater strength and durability are needed, or where lengthy exposure to the elements is an issue.

WINDOW DECAL (CLEAR/ULTRA-REMOVABLE)

We offer this window decal option as an alternative to static cling. The face stock is clear with excellent clarity. The adhesive is an ultra-removable featuring excellent weatherability and UV resistance. It removes cleanly from a wide variety of substrates without staining or ghosting. Why worry about static clings staying on when you can have removable adhesive there to hold it in place?

CAST GLOSS

This is another material specially designed for the wine industry. It is paper-based with a high-gloss white finish. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CHROME (SILVER) BOPP

This material has the same water and oil-resistant properties as our White BOPP and Clear BOPP, but has the "mirror-like" look of shiny chrome.

CLASSIC CREST

Best suited for wine labels, this is a white paper stock with a dull matte finish. It is not suitable for lamination and is therefore not waterproof. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CLEAR BOPP

This is the clear version of the Polypropylene (BOPP) material. It has the same waterproof qualities as the White BOPP. It provides more of a "no label" look and is also suitable for window stickers (where reverse printing of the image allows the label to be applied to the inside of a glass window and be viewed from the outside).

ESTATE #9

This is a great option for wine labels, gourmet foods or applications where a textured finish is desired. Being a paper stock, it's not as water-resistant or durable as BOPP, but its light cream color and textured feel add a touch of the "unusual" to the right product. It features a special adhesive (removable in 100+ degree hot water) and a stronger liner particularly suited to machine application. Not suitable for lamination.

GOLD POLYESTER (METALIZED)

This material will make your labels shine! Suitable for most labeling applications, it has a strong adhesive backing and must be laminated. Choose glossy laminate to make your label designs pop, or matte for a unique, elegant look.

KRAFT (RECYCLED)

This is a recycled 100% post consumer waste material. It is a 55# paper material that is a wonderful option if an “earthy” appearance is desired. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water. It is not suitable for lamination; therefore, it is not water or oil resistant.

REMOVABLE WHITE BOPP

This material is the same as our standard BOPP, but has a special, "less aggressive" adhesive designed to allow the label to be removed or re-positioned after application. Depending on the surface it will be applied to, customer testing is strongly recommended. We can provide samples for this purpose.

SATIN CLOTH

Quite the unique material! Yes, it is woven satin acetate cloth. Think wine or spirit labels! This material will make your product packaging POP. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

SQUEEZABLE

A white, 3mil film that is better suited for squeezable applications. This material has proven to work well in a variety of applications, so you can be confident it will perform well for you.

VELLUM (RECYCLED)

A great “green” choice, this 60# vellum is 100% recycled with 100% post consumer waste material. Cannot be laminated. Is neither water nor oil-resistant. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

WHITE BOPP

This is our most commonly used material and is suitable for most applications. It's a polypropylene material with a permanent adhesive. It is impervious to water and oils, and is particularly suitable for bath and body products, as well as food containers.

WHITE EARTHFIRST PLA

A more environmentally friendly alternative to White BOPP. The PLA stands for Polylactic Acid (a biopolymer made from corn rather than petrochemicals). Similar look and feel to BOPP and suitable for most applications, but should not be used directly on candle containers.

WHITE FLEXIBLE VINYL

This is our most substantial material. The vinyl is thicker than BOPP, and is most suitable for outdoor applications where greater strength and durability are needed, or where lengthy exposure to the elements is an issue.

WINDOW DECAL (CLEAR/ULTRA-REMOVABLE)

We offer this window decal option as an alternative to static cling. The face stock is clear with excellent clarity. The adhesive is an ultra-removable featuring excellent weatherability and UV resistance. It removes cleanly from a wide variety of substrates without staining or ghosting. Why worry about static clings staying on when you can have removable adhesive there to hold it in place?

Artwork Specifications

Laminates

High Gloss

High gloss is our most popular laminate. It is the least expensive option and provides protection for the label and a high gloss shiny finish.

Matte

The Matte Laminate provides your label with a dull, non-glossy finish. Some customers consider this achieves a more "natural" look.

Thermal Transfer

This is a gloss laminate that is designed to work with most over-printing thermal transfer printers. We do recommend you get samples first to test through your own printer before placing an order with this laminate.

UV Outdoor Gloss

As the name implies this is best used for labels that will be used outdoors. It has a high gloss finish with excellent UV resistance. It is best paired with our vinyl material for the most durable outdoor label.