Food Packaging Labels Explained

Food packaging labelsWe all look at labels on packaging day in, day out – but do we really understand what the labels mean, especially as different manufacturers use different designs. This is because the labels they use will typically be custom made to reflect their branding requirements as well as the requirements they specifically need to adhere to when labelling their packaging. As long as the overall meaning is clear then there is scope for individuality when it comes to labelling specific packaging items.

But is the meaning always clear – that is the question. Not always. Whilst some labels are self-explanatory, others can be downright confusing. Here at Hydropac we have chosen to add clear wording to our packaging labels to make it easier for delivery drivers and end users to understand each label, but other manufacturers choose not to do this. Why, we’re not sure, but we’ve put together a collection of the most commonly used labels to better explain what each one may mean.

This Side Up

Pretty clear when paired with some simple wording, This Side Up labels are some of the trickiest to understand if they are just represented with arrows and nothing else. Does it mean this side up or this side down? You’ll soon find out when you open the box….but of course that could be a bit late to save the items inside if they’re not meant to be upside down. Clear wording here is key to keeping things intact!

Handle with Care

Often accompanied with This Side Up labels, Handle with Care means, in essence, the contents are fragile and need to be, well, handled with care. That said, the standard design for this label does look like somebody throwing a box in the air, which could be misconstrued entirely by someone in a hurry. Just 3 simple words make all the difference!

Protect from Heat

This label should mean that the package and contents inside are temperature sensitive and cannot get too hot, but without wording it could be harder to work out what this means. A picture of a box near a sun (which somehow also can resemble a spider) may mean it is OK to get warm. Who knows without a description next to it!

Keep Dry

OK so this one is fairly clear even without words as it is depicted by an umbrella and raindrops, but it could also mean that the package is fine to get wet – you’d hope that common sense would prevail but if the packaging isn’t clearly made from materials that weaken when wet, this could mean it is kept outside when it shouldn’t be.

Temperature Controlled

Usually identified by a thermometer and C/F labels, again it’s hard to see how this could be mistaken as something else, but you never know. Some depictions make the thermometer look more like a beaker with liquid in, so it could be taken as a package with liquid in, rather than it’s true meaning.

Tear off Here

Tear off Here indicators on packaging are intended for the end receiver only and usually depicted by arrows on a strip. However, some versions are very faint and not immediately obvious to those unwrapping the parcel that they even exist, so accompanying these with the wording removes all doubt!

Tamper-evident labels

Anti-tamper labels are designed to ensure that the end recipient knows that the packaging has not been opened during transit and the items inside tampered with. It is a way to provide physical evidence for peace of mind.

Since Brexit, a few more labels are now essential when sending food stuffs. These include:

UK Origin

All food and drink products being sent outside of the UK need to show a clear label of UK origin. This replaces prior “EU origin” labels.

Address label

A UK address label needs to be clearly placed onto the outer packaging for the Food Based Operator (FBO)

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