Prove your food is safe, and you’ll gain customer trust and repeat business.
In the age of COVID-19, consumers are taking the security and safety of their food more seriously than ever. Food packers and preparers like you need to take steps to assure customers that their orders are fresh and safe to build brand loyalty. Since you can't package your food and beverage products in a locked safe and text each customer the combination, nor can you personally oversee every sale, you'll have to find a method that's still secure but also simple, repeatable, and reliable. Thankfully your solution lies in a simple label.
For the food and beverage industry, a "tamper-evident" label may be the most important label to have. You may have heard other terms that sound synonymous, but there are crucial differences.
- Tamper-proof: Remember that no package is "tamper-proof." If you expect your customers to be able to get to the product they've purchased, a delivery driver or someone with nefarious intent can get in there, too. You may see labels advertised as tamper-proof, but the FDA has stated that creating a genuinely tamper-proof container is impossible, and they don't recognize the term as legitimate. Any tamper-proof package would, by definition, be impenetrable and become useful only as a paperweight or doorstop.
- Tamper-resistant: Tamper-resistant packaging slows down container access to make it a hassle for would-be thieves and possibly deter their actions, but won't necessarily show signs of tampering.
- Tamper-evident: The FDA defines tamper-evident packaging as "having one or more indicators or barriers to entry which, if breached or missing, can reasonably be expected to provide visible evidence to consumers that tampering has occurred." The goal is to give the customer a clear indication that the package has not been opened since it left clean hands (if any hands at all) and is therefore safe to consume.
Looking For Evidence
The first and most obvious benefit of tamper-evident seals is that they are exactly that — tamper-evident: a sticker or label on the package is torn or missing and, therefore, shows tampering evidence. If a delivery driver has decided to open a customer's pre-packaged food subscription box, monthly fruit-of-the-month, or bakery delivery, it will be immediately apparent. While stickers and labels most often work, to ensure an extra measure of safety, you can invest in labels that are impossible to peel without tearing.
Of course, delivery drivers aren't the only ones to worry about. Fresh fruit and vegetables may look so enticing through their clear plastic clamshell containers that some customers can't resist sampling. Clear packaging is great for demonstrating when someone decided they didn't need to pay for that handful of blueberries, as well as being able to tell if food is spoiled or damaged. But simply making packaging clear isn't enough security because it can't show that someone has handled the food and placed it back in the container. If they have to get through a tamper-evident seal first, at the very least, the next customer to walk along will get a clear warning to avoid that package.
Not every beverage comes in bottles with plastic tamper-evident screw caps or pop-top caps, but even ones that do can benefit from an extra bit of security. One method is to add a secondary label that extends from the top of the lid down to the side of the container. This can be done with a standard top or top and bottom labeler. The look achieved can be classy and modern with colorful, printed graphics, but for the ultimate security and peace of mind, there are better methods.
- Shrink Sleeve Labeling: If you're already using shrink sleeve labels for your beverages, it's a simple matter to modify your labels to integrate tamper-evident features. Shrink sleeve labels can cover the entire container, cap included. The area of the label around the cap can employ a perforation to allow the customer to twist it off easily. This means that you can still feature large, beautiful graphics and assure consumers that the beverage they’re drinking is safe.
- Shrink Bands: If you're happy with the appearance of your current labels, you can add a tamper-evident shrink band tunnel to your existing packaging line. This way you can add a perforated sealed plastic film over your label that will tear away once opened. These can be clear or feature their own set of graphics for more branding opportunities.
Tamper-evident seals can be an all-in-one solution, protecting the food from tampering, providing all the information you need to satisfy FDA requirements, and communicating clearly with your customers. That way you can get away with only having a single label with multiple functions. People expect labels to convey information in a way they can understand (organic, vegan, non-GMO, 100% recycled packaging, etc.) and prove their food hasn’t been mishandled.
If the right technology is in place, you can personalize labels with customers’ names and messages, such as who prepared their food and when. QR codes can be printed on the front to give customers tangible benefits such as discounts or free products. Graphics and logos can be easily swapped out if you serve multiple items from different partnering food or beverage partners. For example, if you assemble a boxed sandwich lunch paired with a bag of Lay's Potato Chips and a can of Coca-Cola, you can highlight all brand logos on the packaging.
Exploring Pack Leader USA's Labeling Options
Creating trust with consumers starts with a labeling partner you can trust. Tamper-evident labeling is our specialty, and we've designed labeling machines that cater to the fresh food industry. Protect your customers by adding a reliable, consistent labeling machine to your food preparation production line. And remember, if you have questions or concerns, we're here to help. You can also download The Fresh Foods Industry Guide to Evaluating Labeling Equipment for even more advice so you can know you're making the right decision.
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