According to current legislation, every food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical product must have a proper label. Improper labelling or a labelling error can even result in the withdrawal of a product batch from the market.

Table of contents:

Product labelling: what does it involve?

A packaged product is a kind of a secret to the end user. The consumer has no way of knowing what is inside the packaging. This is especially true for non-transparent packaging. So, how does the customer learn about the product they are about to purchase?

Packaging labelling process makes it easier to get information about a specific product. Labels help consumers identify a product and learn about its composition, use, and so on. Labels not only communicate important information, but are also a big part of the marketing of a product. A properly designed, attractive label is an important component of product branding. It can grab a potential customer’s interest and encourage them to learn more about the product.

The type of information that can be found on a label varies depending on the product. This will include the composition, best-before date and storage instructions for food products. Pharmaceutical products, on the other hand, must have unique verification codes on the packaging that allow the medicines to be tracked at all times from the moment they are manufactured, until they are distributed to customers.

Labels can be printed by subcontractors, applied to products on the production line or printed directly before being applied to packaging on the same production line. In the latter case, the information on the label is typically limited to alphanumeric text, barcodes or simple graphics.

Labellers are machines that apply labels on products in the labelling process. Thanks to the various designs of these machines, labels can be applied to both cartons and oval-shaped containers such as bottles or cans. Unilogo’s ROTO labeller, for example, is used for labelling bottles and other round packages.

Food labelling: what information is included on the label?

As we mentioned earlier, the labelling process and the information on labels vary depending on what type of product we are dealing with. When it comes to food products, regulations clearly define how they should be labelled. These requirements change quite frequently, which is why many manufacturers make mistakes when labelling their products.

The basic thing to remember when considering the food labelling process is to label products clearly and in a way that does not mislead customers. This applies, first of all, to the name of the product. For some products, it is specified in the regulations; for others, the common name is simply used, e.g. biscuits, crackers, etc. If a specific ingredient, such as sunflower seeds, is included in the name, it must also be included in the information on the composition of the product along with the percentage.

The ingredient composition is another mandatory element on the label of almost every food product. The exceptions to this are, for example, fresh fruit and vegetables. It is very important that all allergens, such as eggs or nuts, are listed in the ingredient composition.

During the labelling process, the data in the label must also include nutritional information about the product. This should include the fat, carbohydrate, salt, fibre, vitamin and nutrient content. This information should be shown as a table or continuous text for packages that do not have enough space to include a full table.

Food labels must also include information about the net amount of product contained in the package. Depending on the type of product, it can be expressed in weight or volume units. The date of minimum durability or best-before date are also very important elements of the label. These are two separate terms. Consuming a product that has passed its minimum durability date should not be dangerous, but if the product’s best-before date has passed, it may be dangerous.

The most common labelling errors

There are two types of labelling errors. The first is incorrect product label information. For example, if a yoghurt has the label “peach yoghurt” but contains no peaches, this is misleading to the customer.

The second group of errors is connected to the labelling process. For example, the label may be incorrectly applied to the package. It could be positioned incorrectly, oriented incorrectly, or simply not fully glued to the package and stick out.

These labelling errors are often caused by wrong adjustment of the machine parameters or simply their inaccuracy. The errors are usually detected by vision systems that are used to control the labelling process. Generally, incorrectly labelled packaging is removed from the production line almost immediately by a rejection system for defective pieces.

Labelling: a few words of summary

Packaging labelling process is an essential part of any manufacturing process. Although the way the packaging is labelled does not directly affect the quality of the product, the labels are very important for the customer as they contain basic information about the product. This is where you can find the product’s name, composition, manufacturer, and best-before or minimum durability date.

Because the rules on what must be included on food labels change frequently, food manufacturers regularly make errors in the information they include on the label. Other errors in the labelling process have to do strictly with the label application. The label may be applied in the wrong place, in the wrong orientation or not adhere tightly to the package as a result of incorrect labelling machine adjustment or inaccuracy.

If you are experiencing issues with proper label application during your production process or are simply considering purchasing a new machine, we strongly recommend that you check out the Unilogo labellers. Using the contact form, you can quickly and easily get in touch with our team of experts who will help you choose the best solution for your business.