Throughout the food industry, traceability is a top concern. Foodborne illnesses and other product safety issues are a constant threat to consumer health, and companies in all industries need to be prepared for emergency recalls.
Of course, tracking product batches across the country can be complicated. Modern distribution networks are far-reaching and complex. Moreover, in an industry like food production, one tainted ingredient can ruin thousands of products and trigger massive recalls.
To keep consumers safe and aid product recalls, businesses throughout the food industry are often required to outfit their products with lot codes. Frequently required by federal regulations, state laws, and distribution network policies, lot codes commonly appear on everything from packages of meat to egg cartons to pre-packaged snacks and frozen foods. However, lot code printing isn’t always an easy task.
When placing lot codes on food packaging, it’s essential that companies use marking solutions that are:
- Compatible with their packaging materials
- Able to withstand environmental hazards like high humidity and extreme temperatures
- Fast and accurate enough to satisfy output requirements
Below, we take a look at the different equipment options available today and how food operations can use them to achieve code compliance.
How To Place Lot Codes on Food Packaging Using a High-Speed Production Line
Industrial food packaging facilities are demanding work facilities. Depending on the size of an operation, it isn’t uncommon for a facility to package tens of thousands of food products every day. To satisfy output demands and avoid periods of profit-draining downtime, it’s important that food packaging groups use marking solutions that are specifically designed to meet their unique needs.
In a field as diverse as industrial food packaging, coding requirements naturally vary from company to company. Factors like packaging materials, facility environment, and line configurations all influence marking success, and it’s essential that businesses account for these elements when selecting a marking solution.
For lot code marking and beyond, today’s industrial marking companies offer a number of coding options to fit every scenario. The most popular coding options include:
- Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) Printers: Capable of marking a wide variety of porous and non-porous materials at speeds above 300 m/min, CIJ printers like the DuraCode Touchscreen are popular throughout the food packaging industry. Built to continuously operate for up to 24 hours a day, CIJ printers provide line operators with the speed and accuracy required to maintain high efficiency.
- Fiber Laser Marking Systems: Compact, highly accurate, and offering marking speeds up to 2,000 characters per second, fiber laser systems are optimal for fast-moving production lines. Particularly well-suited to mark metals, rigid plastics, and glass, fiber laser systems deliver excellent results and uninterrupted operation.
- CO2 Laser Marking Systems: Like fiber laser marking machines, CO2 laser systems offer fast coding speeds, high accuracy, and continuous coding capabilities. However, fiber and CO2 solutions significantly differ when it comes to substrate compatibility. While fiber systems work well with a range of metals, CO2 lasers do not. Instead, CO2 lasers specialize in marking rigid and flexible plastics, cardboard, wood, and rubber.
To learn whether a CIJ or laser system will work better for your needs, read this article for more information.
How To Place Lot Codes on Food Packaging With a Lower-Speed Production Line
Although CIJ printers and laser marking systems are excellent lot coding solutions, many food companies don’t require the industrial coding speeds offered by these machines. For lower-speed production needs, thermal inkjet printers offer great results at a much lower cost.
Compact, affordable, and able to produce high-contrast markings at speeds around 70 m/min, TIJ printers like the Anser U2 Pro-S and U2 SmartOne are ideal for food companies looking for high-quality marking solutions that fit into a budget. The Anser U2 Pro-S, for instance, is available for $1,499 and offers:
- Compatibility with porous, semi-porous, and non-porous materials
- Zero-maintenance operation and minimal upkeep requirements
- DPI resolutions up to 400(h) x 300(v)
- High mobility and easy line integration
With these capabilities, users not only can place lot codes on food packaging but machine-scannable barcodes and QR codes as well.
Want To Upgrade Your Food Marking Process? Call InkJet, Inc. Today To Find a New Coding Solution
Regardless of whether you run a small business or a major food packaging facility, a reliable product marking solution is an essential asset. At InkJet, Inc., we carry an array of coding hardware and software to fit the needs of different businesses and line setups. Call us today to learn which solution will work best for your operation.
For more information on how to place lot codes on food packaging, contact InkJet, Inc. online today or call 1(800) 280-3245.