A number of food businesses now have a label management programme for food safety. Label information on food packages is an essential piece of information for food safety. Food businesses must have fool-proof approval, storage, usage and records of all labels right from the beginning of the process to the final use on products.
A label management programme must take into consideration the following points as they are markers for food safety.
- All labels that are currently being used must be dated and placed in a master file.
- If a label has been changed or updated then the old label in the master file must be removed from it.
- It is essential to note any changes in the label in the change section.
- Production records must have labels from the beginning, middle and end of the production cycle.
- The production record must show which labels were used along with date and time.
- Labels that have allergen message must be marked clearly so there is no mistake in placing them on the appropriate products containing those allergens, so foods are safe.
- A change in the formula, additives or ingredients in food products requires a change in the label too. Careful attention must be given to ensure that the lot of old labels are destroyed and the new labels used have the accurate information according to the changes made in the food products.
Receipt of food labels
As a major step in food safety, food processors and manufacturers need to have a label management programme so labels can be monitored for quality and accuracy of labels from receipt, to use and final destruction. On receipt from vendors the labels must be checked for quality and accuracy and compared with label samples in the master file and approved once they match.
Mismatch in food labels
In case there is mismatch in the labels in the sample file and the labels from the vendor they need to be either returned to the vendor immediately or destroyed after informing the vendor who has printed the labels. A record must be maintained of the incorrect label lot and the date of destruction or return to vendor.
Storage of food labels
Approved labels are usually stored close to the production area. To ensure food safety the storage area for labels must have entry limited to authorised personnel only and the door must be marked ‘Entry Only for Authorised Personnel’ in bold letters. When approved labels are received for storage the labels the date of receipt must be noted.
Use of food labels
Any labels that are sent to production area must be entered in a log book. The log book must contain an accurate number of labels removed and returned for storage, if not used. Personnel in production also need to maintain food safety and so all records of labels, received from storage, used or returned must be clearly documented and lot numbers noted according to date of production.