Reactive, Bumpy Food Labels Could Slash UK Food Waste

A new type of food label, which becomes bumpy as food degrades and becomes unconsumable, is being trialled by food giant Arla, and is said to be capable of greatly cutting food waste. More than 7 million tonnes of food were thrown away in 2015, with the majority coming from households. This equates to a cost of nearly £500 per household, per annum, and government and food safety bodies have said that over half, or 4.4 million tonnes, of this wastage could have been avoided.

The government has made moves to try and cut food waste in the past few years. They have attempted to clarify the differences between terms like “use by”, “best before”, and “display until”, and have released guidelines on how to ensure that food keeps fresher and edible for longer.

Mimica Touch Labels

Startup company, Mimica, is in the process of trialling a new style of food label known as the Mimica Touch label. The hi-tech labels turn bumpy as the food inside biodegrades. The labels react to a change in conditions of the packaged food, as well as to changes in temperature. The changes cause a breakdown of the gelatine layer, resulting in the smooth label becoming bumpy.

The company has said that, because the labels rely on food condition and not a predetermined date, they will help consumers determine whether the contents are still safe to eat even beyond the “use by” date on the packaging, thereby cutting waste and minimising the impact that wasted food has on the environment and the industry. It will also help households save on the costs of food waste each yer.

Mimica Touch labels are essentially a small tray with a lid that includes the bump label. As the condition of the gel changes, the label reacts by offering a tactile guide on the quality of the food within the packaging. Mimica say that because their label is just a small tray with a lid, it can be printed using conventional label printing machines.

Arla Bumpy Label Testing

Arla Foods is a conglomerate of farmers and dairy producers that supply their products to supermarkets and shops around the country. They are currently testing the labels in partnership with Mimica. They aim to gage the reaction of consumers before they decide whether to progress further with testing.

As yet, the Touch labels have not reached the market, and are still in testing. If the test between Mimica and Arla has positive results, however, the award-winning labelling system could quickly become mainstream.

Dairy Wastage

Waste and recycling advisory body, Wrap, has said that dairy products typically enjoy a 3 day buffer life, which means that daily essentials like milk could be kept for longer than the displayed date on the packaging as long as they’re kept in the right conditions. Although potatoes are the single item that we throw out the most of, salads and vegetables, followed by dairy, are also major contributors to annual food wastage in the UK.

Labelling Requirements

Every food item must provide a “best before” or “use by” date or, at least, include information on where this data can be found.

Depending on the type of food being packaged, you must also include other information, including the country of origin, and the government has suggested new guidelines that will come into effect after Brexit, which will mean that meat products must contain information on whether the animal was stunned or not before slaughter.

With tighter regulations and proposed new laws on food labelling, it has never been more important that food be clearly labelled, and not only should labels be clear to read but they should be long-lasting and durable.

Label Line UK

To achieve the labelling results you want for your production, you need to have the right machinery and consumables. At Label Line, we have extensive experience in helping manufacturers in choosing the right machinery, helping install it, and we can even provide training to your employees so that you can be sure that you are getting the most out of the machinery. We also supply labels, printer consumables, coding machines, and handheld scanners.

Take a look at our full range of brochures or give us a call and speak to one of the Label Line team, who will be able to answer your questions and determine the most effective and efficient labelling products for your business.