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Why Meat Labels are So Important: a Case from India

freezer meat labelsIn the modern world, we depend on food labels to tell us a number of things about the products were consume, including their freshness and safety and exactly what's in them. Recently, a story hit the world news outlets that makes it clear why good meat labels are so important.

This past May, a scandal erupted in the Indian city of Kolkata, in Bengal Province, that sent meat sales plummeting in restaurants and grocery stores alike. The local police had raided several companies that sold meat to local restaurants and grocery stores, with horrifying results:: in one freezer, they found the rotting carcasses of numerous chickens, along with emaciated living chickens.

Worse, in another provider's freezers they found 20 metric tonnes of rotting animal carcasses—that's 20,000 kilograms, or about 44,000 pounds. News reports have been very careful not to mention the types of animal carcasses found, but rumors have abounded.

As it turns out, the perpetrators were literally retrieving the carcasses from the garbage. When they learned that someone had dropped animal remains off at a local landfill, they picked up the remains and returned the carcass(es) to their premises for processing. At one landfill, they had an employee—allegedly a former local politician—who tipped them off whenever an animal carcass was dumped.

Apparently, one reason they were able to get away with the scam for as long as they did was that they were mostly providing the meat to their customers unlabeled.

In some cases, however, they were wrapping it in the packaging of legitimate meat packagers. Whether the packaging was scavenged, stolen, or simply counterfeited remains uncertain.

How far the tainted meat has been shipped also remains uncertain, though some sources indicated that it was shipped throughout India and to nearby countries like Bangladesh.

Needless to say, locals were horrified. Most restaurants and grocery stores were quick to assure their customers that they procured their meat from other sources that had been deemed safe, with the TGI Friday's restaurant chain going so far as to admit they sourced their pork from the United States.

Nonetheless, many consumers weren't willing to take any chances, and sales of meat dishes in local restaurants immediately declined by as much as 60%. Some people still trusted chicken, but others opted for purely vegetarian meals. Later, as more news got out, chicken sales also plummeted all over the city.

Police arrested ten people in the wake of the raids. Another apparently fled to Bangladesh. It later came to light that more than half of 120 Bengali food samples tested in 2014-15 were found to be "adulterated," and that the local Food Safety and Standards Authority of India was aware that food quality in Bengal was poor in general.

It's easy to say that something like the Bengali scandal couldn't happen here, but it could. All it takes is a few unscrupulous individuals and governmental apathy. That's why accurate meat labels are so important—and it's one reason why certain language is required on the labels by the government.

Companies need to be careful about meat labels because they need to be careful about public health—and their own corporate integrity.

The Science of Cryogenic Labels

cryogenic labelsWhile most of our freezer labels are used for labeling food, there's one category we make specifically for scientific and medical use: cryogenic labels. These special freezer labels must be able to handle extreme cold without deadening, breaking, or cracking, and some may have to last for many years.

It all depends on the equipment or containers the cryogenic labels are used on. For cryogenic suspension, the cryogenic labels may have to last for decades.

If you're wondering what cryogenic suspension is, it's basically the freezing of human bodies or body parts in hopes that the illnesses or injuries that killed those individuals might be treatable in the future, when they can be "thawed out" and repaired.

Obviously, these are very optimistic people, but who knows? They may have reason to be optimistic. And until they're revived, they'll need good cryogenic labels to make sure everyone who takes care of them knows who's who.

It would be embarrassing to have the first thing someone asks you when you woke up in the year 3012 be, "Okay, so who are you?" Assuming you could understand what they said. 

But we digress.

Some cryogenic labels may be used in cold electronics labs, because electronics work better at cool temperatures. Some work best at very cool temperatures, because electricity conducts almost effortlessly through some materials at cryogenic temperatures. This is especially important for experimental purposes.

However, most cryogenic labels are used for more prosaic purposes, like labeling containers and machinery used in cryogenic labs or freezers. Mostly, the materials they adhere to are made of easily sterilized steel, glass, or tough plastics.

This gives them a nice smooth surface to adhere to, but the real challenge, again, is for cryogenic labels to maintain tack (stickiness) no matter how cold it gets, which isn't easy when the mercury drops below Antarctic levels. 

These special freezer labels must be especially durable, with the capability of handling low temperatures as well. At the very least, they should be able to handle temperatures to well below -112° F. This is the freezing point of dry ice (solid carbon dioxide), which is often used for quick cooling and shipping, since it melts directly to a gas without a liquid state.

A good pressure sensitive cryogenic label also needs to be able to handle application while the item labeled is in a very cold state. Ours can handle temperatures as low as -20° F, as long as the surface to which they're applied is dry and clean. 

Need some dependable cryogenic labels? We'll be glad to print some for you or provide blank versions you can print for your own use. Just call us or use our quote form to get a quote ASAP.

The True Meaning of Meat Labels

meat labelsWhat is meat? And with that comes another question: what are meat labels?

The answer to the first question may seem obvious to most people, but it can depend on your culture, your dialect of English, and the era is which it was spoken.

Originally, "meat" was any form of solid food, just as "corn" was any grain, not just maize. It's still used that way sometimes in British English.

If you've ever heard the Pink Floyd song "Another Brick in the Wall," you may recall hearing an old man shouting, "If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?" In the U.S. we'd say, "If you don't eat your dinner, you can't have any dessert! How can you have any dessert if you don't eat your dinner?" 

In modern terms, however, "meat" almost always refers to the flesh of an animal, at least in the U.S. and the U.K. Exceptions are rare, so we'll use this definition for frozen meat labels.

If they go on other edibles, we're going to keep calling them frozen vegetable labels, or frozen fruit labels, or pizza labels, or even sausage labels, even though sausage is a form of meat—perhaps loosely defined sometimes, but meat nonetheless.

Yes, okay, meat labels can be complicated, just like all other freezer labels and refrigerator labels. But they don't have to be, if you follow the rules. Now, due to some shenanigans on the part of meat packers in the late 1800s (read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle for the horrific details), meat labels must adhere to more rigid codes than most freezer labels.

Every type of meat product (including the famous "mechanically separated chicken") must be included in the list of ingredients, which is why you sometimes see long, fascinating contents stories on potted meat, Vienna sausage, and hot dog packages.

Also, they often specify the national source of the meat, as well as (for seafood labels) goodies like whether it was source from a sustainable animal population. Many meat labels also note whether the products meet Halal and Kosher dietary standards.

As a long-time freezer label producer, we've got the knowledge and experience to ensure your meat labels include everything they're supposed to, and we'll make them in-house for a reasonable price and on a reasonable schedule. To learn more, send us a quote request!meat labels

The Many Uses of Freezer Stickers

freezer stickers

How do we love thee, freezer stickers? Let us count the ways...

No, no, that would be silly. Not the counting, but the poetry. Sad to say, freezer labels of any kind are not exactly poetry in motion. They're more appropriate for poultry without motion. The frozen kind, you see. All it takes is the right freezer stickers and knowing how to label frozen food, and you're good to go.

There are special freezer labels made to withstand the supremely chilly cold and moisture of liquid nitrogen, because it's a really good idea to label frozen genetic materials, heads, and whole bodies that are supposed to last centuries before hopefully being revived in the far future. (Can you imagine the revival tax? A toe here, a kidney there, or that spare eye since you've got two?). Most freezer stickers are made for frozen foods and only have to protect to maybe 20 below zero. The best, like ours, can handle temperatures down to 60 degrees below, even colder, without giving up. 

Freezer stickers make wonderful ice cream labels, pizza labels, sausage labels, meat labels, popsicle labels, meatsicle labels... though we suspect that last wouldn't go over too well in the edibles market. But sausages are pretty much the same, right? And we make the best sausage labels ever. In fact, you never sausage labels! (Get it? Eh?)

Refrigerator labels and freezer stickers alike are a mainstay of the frozen food industry, the products of which make up a significant portion of any grocery store. Not only is cold the best way to preserve foods like meats, cheeses, and vegetables, we can't live without our frozen sweets. Life just wouldn't be the same. In 2015, when a Listeria outbreak closed down Blue Bell Creameries—a regional manufacturer of ice cream that's nonetheless the fourth bestselling brand in the U.S.—the result was a widespread wailing and gnashing of teeth, mostly in the South and Southwest, as millions of consumers had to make do with store brands. Texans in particular suffered from Blue Bell withdrawals, as that's where Blue Bell began. And not surprisingly, ice cream labels suffered a dip in sales too for the 3-5 months Blue Bell was unavailable. We're kind of surprised people weren't trying to sell it on eBay, like they did with Tickle-Me Elmos when they became scarce.

Clearly, freezer stickers are important, because frozen goods are important—they're a huge part of the economy. We're proud of our role as part of the freezer sticker provider network, and we're very proud of our high-quality fridge and freezer labels in general Furthermore, we pledge that Etiquette Systems will never be shut down due to a Listeria outbreak. We may have to revise that promise if we ever print edible freezer labels, but until then, it's 100% guaranteed!

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