Interactive Coding Equipment (ICE) which provides date, barcode and batch coding for products and packaging is using its Clarity software to prepare for the EU food regulation, due to come into force in December.
The Food Information to Consumers Regulations (FIC) will set rules on how foods should be labelled and what information is mandatory as well as the presentation, style and positioning of this information.
Three months to plan a label
Chris Simpson, ICE’s managing director, which includes Videojet as a partner told FoodProductionDaily the software enables users to select almost any Windows TrueType font in any size on the label.
“For example, a minimum font size of 1.2mm is required for large packs and 0.9mm for medium packs less than 80cm2,” he said.
“The feedback from all sectors, notably food, is very positive. Specifically in the meat sector they use the linked date functionality and in the produce sector, the country of origin and product variety functionality is used.”
Simpson added on average it takes about three months to plan, design and sign off a new label, and with some leading brands it can take even longer.
“The new regulation covers a number of requirements making ingredient information more accessible to consumers. Changes to minimum font size, allergen information, country of origin and nutrition labelling are also covered,” he said.
“New rules requiring allergen information to be clearly distinguished from the rest of the list of ingredients can be met through the ability to highlight, make bold, underline or change the font for these details.
“For meat producers, another important feature of the software is the flexibility of being able to add variable information regarding fat content onto the label.”
He said the way the software works is as a coder interface with icon based controls and a colour touchscreen.
This is used by the operator to select the jobs that the coder will print - either on the screen or by scanning a barcode to select the job.
Information such as date, place of manufacture, best before date, batch number and production and consumer information is applied to every product.
“Throughout the packaging line, scanners check for coding accuracy and if any are detected, the alarm beacon can be activated and the line can be stopped or the product rejected automatically,” he said.
Simpson added the worst case scenario given the new regulations is that improvement notices may be issued where there has been a failure to comply.
“Any person who fails to comply with an improvement notice commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (currently £5,000). The notice may require the food business operator to remove products from sale wither on a temporary or permanently,” he said.
ICE is one of six business centres operating in the UK, with Videojet, Linx, and Wolke providing direct sales channels. It also has two R&D facilities in Nottingham and Huntingdon, UK.