The UK meat sector is a hugely significant and important part of the food and drink industry, employing over 100,000 people in abattoirs, and meat processing and manufacturing plants.
At a time when the meat processing industry is getting itself into shape for the future, selecting the right coding and marking equipment can play a significant part in ensuring that processors are ready for the opportunities lying ahead.
See how Quality Foods have benefited from using a Linx printer in our case study
See our expert guide on Coding Systems for Lean Production
Legislative challenges in meat processing
Following an EU-wide review of both general food and nutrition labeling legislation, the new Food Information for Consumers Regulation (FIR) brings EU rules on general and nutrition labeling together into a single regulation to simplify and consolidate existing labeling legislation and applies in all Member States, replacing current UK law after a three-year transitional period.
Origin requirements have been tightened and also extended to fresh and frozen meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry. The Commission has introduced implementing rules which will require information on the place of rearing and place of slaughter for these meats. These rules are expected to apply from April 2015.
Depending on the type of food, consumers will continue to see 'best before' and 'use by' dates on pre-packed foods. Where appropriate, such as for meat and fish, there will also be a date of first freezing shown on food labels.
A minimum font size for the mandatory information on most food labels will aid clarity – as well as creating even more demands for the delivery of accurate codes. Under these conditions, effective coding and marking equipment must work effectively but unobtrusively – its task is simple, but failure can be costly in an industry where perishable goods cannot always be recoded, resulting in expensive scrappage.
Meat processors therefore need to be able to react quickly to changing trends, customer demands or legislation whilst keeping their costs down.
Linx’s own Voice of Customer research in 2014 revealed that the key drivers behind coding purchases in the meat processing industry are: the ability to ensure traceability by coding accurately and reliably even in a washdown environment; selecting printers which keep working without costly downtime; and printers which are easy to use and switch between products. These factors, and others, are often inter-connected.
Accurate and reliable meat marking in washdown environments
Meat traceability is imperative and industry audits can happen without warning so you need to know your coding meets regulatory andcustomer standards at all times. The Linx range of CIJ coders are IP55-rated helping to maintain the highest possible hygiene on production lines andcan prevent wet conditions affecting the coder and bringing production to a halt. IP55-rated coders offer ultra-reliable operation and will maintain code integrity even in damp or refrigerated conditions.
Code accuracy is a major consideration. As legislation and consumer demand for reassurance lead to a requirement for more information and specific font sizes when meat marking, the amount of space available for this functional information such as durability dates continues to be squeezed.
Our range of CIJ coders are capable of coding onto a wide variety of materials and different types of packaging which may require the code to be printed at different angles – from the top, side or bottom – with a printhead which can deliver codes from various angles. CIJ coders can be switched easily from coding onto one pack and substrate, to another and the value of versatile equipment is soon obvious.
Smudged codes result in wasted product. We have a wide range of specialist inks which have been developed specifically to ensure the codes do not rub off, even when there is moisture on the packaging.
With the right coder, you can deliver meat marking consistently onto everything - from the latest flexible packaging through to traditional plastic products, secondary packaging and labels.
The wet or cold conditions on typical meat processing production lines can also affect code integrity. And if your production line handles a range of products and you need a coder with the flexibility to code across multiple lines, such as those used for packaging sliced meats in trays, then traversing printheads is what you require.
Coding & Marking In The Meat Processing Industry
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