Chemical Labeling Compliance: Requirements & Solutions

GHS (Globally Harmonized System) Chemical Labeling Compliance

Until 2003, chemical labels were regulated by standards created by individual nations, usually with advice and commentary from related industry groups. We now find ourselves in an era of globalization, in which a globally interconnected supply chain accomplishes the manufacturing, packaging, transport, sale, and use of chemicals and chemical products.

Costs of GHS labeling are varied.  The European Union, the United States, Canada, and Asian countries have all moved towards GHS chemical labeling compliance at different rates, and with different final standards.
Although all of these packaging guidelines are GHS compliant, they do have subtle differences in language, size, and orientation rules – when a company ships chemicals to each of these countries, distinct packaging is needed for each location. From shipment to shipment, packaging an unpredictable amount of specific chemicals with unique GHS labels is a process that can be difficult to prepare for, without the appropriate packaging solution.

Benefits of the GHS Chemical Labeling Compliance Standards
Increased Safety, Communication, and Trade Facilitation

While the industry is required to bear the costs of re-assessing and re-packaging chemical products, it is important to note that there are benefits of GHS chemical labeling compliance.

  • GHS allows for a simpler export of chemical products to foreign markets, with no more country-specific documentation and testing standards, workplace safety standards, and environmental standards.
  • GHS further protects human health and the environment with consistent international hazard communication to inform all users throughout the chemical supply chain to the presence of a hazard. Compliance also minimizes exposure and risk to those hazardous chemicals through safer transportation, handling, and use.
  • In all participating countries, GHS ensures the safe management of chemicals through identifying hazards and communicating them. This is particularly useful for countries without well-developed regulatory systems.
  • GHS provides increased and simplified international trade, leading to improved communication and growth in international markets for companies seeking to import and export chemical goods.

Mandated GHS Label Requirements

Product Identifier
The ingredient name or number of the pure chemical substance or chemical mixture. The technical name(s) must be harmonized with IUPAC, CAS, and with the technical name(s) listed on the MSDS sheet. It must also be aligned with the UN Proper Shipping Name if the chemical is regulated under the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (UNRTDG). The Product Identifier is meant to prevent accidental or uninformed exposure. A worker, shipper, or supply chain partner must be able to identify the chemical and recognize its potential hazard accurately.

GHS Pictograms
Each red, black, and white point-set, square-shaped pictogram conveys information about particular hazardous risks associated with a chemical. In combination with the signal word “Danger” or “Warning,” the pictogram communicates the severity of the risk and is meant to prevent accidental or uninformed exposure. More than one pictogram may be used on the same chemical label, if applicable. The size of the pictogram, and other label elements, should be proportionate to the physical dimensions of the label. Examples:

chemical labeling compliance

Signal Words
Either “Danger” or “Warning” used to emphasize hazards and indicate the relative level of severity of the hazard, assigned to a GHS hazard class and category: “Danger” for the more severe hazards, and “Warning” for the less severe hazards. Only one signal word corresponding to the class of the most severe hazard should be used on a label.

Hazard Statements
These phrases describe the nature and degree of the hazard posed by the chemical. All hazard statements should be included on the label for a substance/mixture possessing more than one hazard. Example of a hazard statement: “Heating may cause an explosion.”

Precautionary Statement
These statements must relate to the GHS pictogram and further describe measures that should be taken to minimize or prevent risks associated with the hazard. The number of precautionary statements should be kept to a maximum of six. Example:  “Keep away from heat/sparks/open flames/hot surfaces – no smoking” in relation to a pictogram that shows Explosive Danger and a Hazard Statement such as “Heating may cause an explosion.”

Supplier Information
Each chemical container, including secondary packagings such as crates and master cases, must include a GHS label printed with the Supplier Information. This must include the name, address, and telephone number of the manufacturer or supplier of the product.

Supplementary Information
Additional product information volunteered by the manufacturer, supplier, or other responsible parties. It is acceptable for the manufacturer to make a statement that is not harmonized with the GHS standards. However, the statement must not conflict with GHS standards.

Label Size Requirements

Most countries do not require minimum label sizes for GHS labels; however, they stipulate that GHS labels are easily readable. In the European Union, label minimums are outlined, depending on the capacity of the container. Within the European Union, the proper minimum label dimensions based on container size are depicted on the chart below:

Printing GHS Labels In-House

The variety of GHS label formats and size configurations has made the prospect of printing labels in-house, tailored for each chemical product, attractive to many chemical manufacturers. There are a couple of options for printing GHS labels as part of an in-house packaging process:

Option One: Printing Labels with a Barcode Printer
In this scenario, a barcode label printer is used to print pictograms, signal words, manufacturer address, and other text in one-color: black. Secondary and additional colors, red for the GHS pictograms and other colors for logos and branding, are pre-printed onto a roll of labels.
This pre-printed roll is inserted on a thermal transfer barcode printer, which prints the black-colored portion of the label, including the black section of the GHS pictograms, signal words, hazard warning, and other text with a black-colored thermal transfer ribbon.
This solution requires a large inventory of pre-printed labels, and a separate pre-printed roll for each variation in chemical label: different countries, languages, pictograms each get their own pre-printed roll. This presents a logistical challenge in a production setting, where packaging staff is required to identify and select the correct pre-printed label roll from among the many rolls on warehouse shelves for each batch.

Option Two: Printing Labels with a Full-Color Label Printer
A full-color digital label printer grants the capability of printing variable GHS labels with maximum flexibility to comply with GHS labeling regulations, along with customer and retailer demand.
Chemical manufacturers are finding that a full-color label printer provides them the most flexibility for printing GHS labels for international and domestic markets, wholesalers, and private label retailers.
A four-color or five-color printer can satisfy BS5609, GHS, private, and custom labeling requirements at the same time. However, an in-house, full-color digital label printer gives chemical manufacturers the capacity to print labels that integrate all GHS required elements and create graphic-rich primary display panels that include logos and branding the same label printing process.

Questions? Let us know, we’re here to help!

At AstroNova, we offer a total labeling solution. We provide the tools you need to integrate production efficiencies into your business and keep up with industry demands from a wide variety of label printers, materials, technical support, training, and a library of support videos. Contact us to schedule a free, web-based demonstration and to speak with one of our specialists!

Useful Packaging & Labeling Industry Terminology

The world of packaging & labeling is quite complicated and can be littered with complex terms and legalese. The origins of the USA’s current regulatory framework can be traced back to the Uniform Packaging and Labeling Regulation (UPLR) that was first adopted in 1952. The UPLR requires that consumer packaging bear a label specifying the following:

  • the identity of the commodity
  • the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor
  • the net quantity of contents in terms of weight, mass measure, or numerical count is in a uniform location upon the principal display panel

UPLR has precise definitions for seemingly simple and straightforward terms like “package” or “label.” Select terms you may find useful are defined and explained below. For a complete list of terms along with their definitions and exceptions, please refer to the relevant section in  NIST Handbook 130

Package

The term “package,” whether standard package or random package, means any commodity: (a) enclosed in a container or wrapped in any manner in advance of wholesale or retail sale, or (b) whose weight or measure has been determined in the wholesale or retail sale. An individual item or lot of any commodity on which a selling price is marked based on an established price per unit of weight or measure shall be considered a package or packages.

Consumer Package or Consumer Commodity

A package that is:

  • customarily produced or distributed for sale through retail sales agencies or for consumption
  • used by individuals for the purposes of personal care
  • used in the performance of services ordinarily rendered in or about the household
  • used in connection with personal possessions

Random Package

A package that is a lot, shipment, or delivery of packages of the same consumer commodity with no fixed pattern of net contents.

Label

Any written, printed, or graphic matter affixed to, applied to, attached to, blown into, formed, molded into, embossed on, or appearing upon or adjacent to a consumer commodity, or a package containing any consumer commodity, for purposes of branding, identifying, or giving any information concerning the product or the contents of the package.

Principal Display Panel(s)

The part(s) of a label that is designed to most likely be displayed, presented, shown, or examined under the usual and customary display and purchase conditions. Wherever a principal display panel appears more than once on a package, all requirements about the “principal display panel” shall pertain to all such “principal display panels.”

Multi-Unit Package

A package containing two or more individual packages of the same commodity, in the same quantity, is intended to be sold as a multi-unit package, but where the component packages are labeled individually in full compliance with all requirements of this regulation.

Combination Package

A package intended for retail sale, containing two or more individual packages or units of different commodities. Examples: antiquing or housecleaning kit sponge and cleaner lighter fluid and flints. 

Variety Package

A package intended for retail sale, containing two or more individual packages or units of similar, but not identical, commodities. Commodities that are generically the same, but that differ in weight, measure, volume, appearance, or quality, are considered similar, but not identical. Examples: two sponges of different sizes or plastic tableware, consisting of four spoons, four knives, and four forks.

Spot Label

A spot label is a label clearly defined utilizing a border, indentation, or other means that cover only a small portion of the surface of a principal display panel of a package; the entire portion of the principal display panel outside the area of the label contains no printed or graphic matter of any kind. A spot label may provide all required labeling information (identity, responsibility, and net contents), but it must at least indicate the identity and net contents.

Header Strip

A header label or header strip is a label that is attached across the top of a transparent or opaque bag or other containers that bears no other printed or graphic material.

Standard Package

A package that is one of a lot, shipment, or delivery of parcels of the same commodity with identical net content declarations. Examples: 1 L bottles or 12 fl. oz cans of carbonated soda, or 500 g or 5 lb. bags of sugar. 

Have Questions or Looking to Print Labels In-House?

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can print product labels on-demand, feel free to contact us to schedule a free demonstration or speak with one of our specialists!  

Is Your Labeling Process Inefficient & Costly?

The labeling process can be timely, expensive, and cumbersome – but it doesn’t have to be. Like with anything, the more you understand about the labeling process, the more you can work on integrating efficiencies.

When you step back and look at your current labeling process, have you considered hidden labeling costs? Do you actually know the total cost per label? Is your operation as efficient as it could be?

Stop Wasting Unnecessary Time and Money –
understand your print costs

While it’s true an estimated print job varies technology to technology, there are variables to keep in mind when it comes to the actual ink costs, regardless of the specific technology.

  1. Size of the image
  2. Ink/color coverage breakdown- what amount of coverage are you looking for?
  3. Price per ink/toner cartridge – and approximate number of labels printable with a full ink cartridge

It’s important to note the type(s) of material(s) are important too and will ultimately play into the total cost per label but to keep things simpler, let’s focus on ink costs specifically.

How Are Ink Costs Calculated?

When it comes to digital printing, the process of estimating ink costs is done differently depending on the technology used – inkjet vs. toner.

Inkjet: A manual process where the label image is rendered and offers a breakdown of the amount of cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y), and black (K) the image is comprised of. Based on this breakdown of colors, a cost per page (CPP) is provided along with an estimate of the expected ink costs over the lifetime of the printer.

Toner: A manual process where a PDF of the label image is loaded into a proprietary software tool which determines the percentage coverage of the area of a label for each toner cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y), black (K) and white (W). A CPP is provided with a cost breakdown for each toner and other supplies such as the fuser unit and transfer belt.

It’s worth noting for either digital technology, the cost is calculated based on an average – not based on an individual label. This is because, over the lifetime of the printer, there’s bound to be extra ink consumption- from the automatic printhead cleanings and maintenance, ensuring optimal print quality to the toner particles that’ll inevitably stick to internal hardware to electrostatic charge. While these totals are typically insignificant, it’s essential to receive an average ink cost estimate to account for these things to ensure the best accuracy.

Want to get a better idea of your ink costs?
See how you could be saving money with a free ink cost calculation

For a free ink cost calculation, simply send us your label artwork and receive an accurate, complete cost per label – including ink and label materials. Stop wasting label materials, time, and money.
Learn more and find out how much you could be saving on ink costs and improve efficiencies and productivity today!

How to Find a Tabletop Label Printer That Fits Your Needs

Once you’re aware of the different printing technologies and the pros and cons each one offers, here are some helpful tips for identifying which tabletop label printer fits your application needs.

If you’re unsure which print technology is right for you, you can find more detailed information on that here.

I understand the different printing technologies and their pros & cons, now how do I buy a tabletop label printer that fits my needs?

Now that you’re aware of the three key technologies available in a desktop format for printing color labels, how do you go about selecting the right printing technology and model for your unique application?

Start by looking at your product:

Consider its container size(s) and your favorite look and colors. Do you prefer your labels to have a shiny, glossy look, or perhaps a semi-gloss or a matte look is more appropriate? Will printing colors on white label substrate do the job, or does your product require you to print on clear or colored substrates of different textures? Nobody else knows your product or your branding requirements like you do, so only you can make that decision. This will ultimately help you arrive at the necessary label sizes that you’ll need and the vital elements of your label artwork.

Decide on your product packaging, transportation, and storage through its journey from the manufacturing location to the end-consumer:

Are there any special environmental conditions to consider? For example, does your product need refrigeration requiring labels that must withstand water droplets due to condensation? Will the product labels need to withstand prolonged exposure to moisture or sunlight? Do the labels need to withstand exposure to certain chemicals that perhaps makeup part of your product? In addition to helping you select the right printing technology, these choices may influence your material preference and the adhesive backing.

Estimate Print Volumes:

Based on the sales forecast of all your SKUs, estimate your daily, weekly, or monthly print volumes by label size. Also, consider what a typical print run would be like. For example, let’s say you print 1000 labels of 4×3 in four separate print jobs on almost a daily basis. That is useful information.

Consider Variable Data:

Do you need your tabletop color label printer to print variable data information on your labels, i.e., serial numbers, dates, lot codes, etc.? If so, you’ll want your vendor to provide labeling software that’ll help you meet these specific requirements.

How will you be applying labels?

Will you be applying labels to your product(s) by hand, or by using an automatic label applicator?  Which is the most efficient option for your labeling and production needs?

Once you’ve given the above questions a thought, you’re ready to shop around for an appropriate label printer as an educated buyer. Some tips as you browse websites for printer specifications and contact label printer manufacturers or distributors:

Do they carry printers based on a single technology or different technologies?

Printer manufacturers/distributors who only carry one printing technology are more likely to push for their technology/product than look out for your needs.

Do they offer a total solution, for instance, label material supplies, software, and technical support along with the printers and ink?

If they do, they are more likely to ensure that the right printer is selected for your needs, and is functional so they can earn revenues from inks and materials. Like document printers, label printers are a very competitive segment, and hardware sales are typically made at very thin margins. By ensuring the printers, the inks, and the labels are engineered and tested for compatibility will ensure a longer lifetime of your investment.

Do they offer free remote web-based support?

Think of your label printer as a production machine that will invariably require some periodic maintenance and upkeep. Search for available support videos on the company’s website or YouTube channel, or sometimes it may be easier to call, email, chat, or have a live web-based conference call.  Do they offer the kind of support you’re looking for?

Does the printer company provide labeling software as well?

If you have any special or unique software requirements now or in the future, consider how much easier it’ll be for you to deal with a single vendor to ensure software and hardware are compatible.

Questions? Let us know, we’re here to help!

At AstroNova, we offer a total labeling solution. We provide the tools you need to integrate production efficiencies into your business and keep up with industry demands from a wide variety of label printers, materials, technical support, training, and a library of support videos. Contact us to schedule a free, web-based demonstration and to speak with one of our specialists!

Not Your Average Licorice, Not Your Average Label Printer

During a trip to Denmark,  AstroNova met with luxury licorice company Lakrids by Bülow to see how they use their QuickLabel QL-300 to print quality, high-end labels to complement their brand.  

Now a luxury licorice brand with global reach, Lakrids by Bülow got its start in 2007 when the first shop was opened in Svaneke, Denmark.  The shop was an instant hit with locals, and the product seemed to be so popular, keeping up the demand was a challenge.  But, just a year later, in 2008, they scaled production to meet the demand, opened their first factory, and installed a licorice machine. From there, the operation only grew bigger.  Especially once Lakrids did what was said couldn’t be done – coat the licorice with chocolate.

Over a decade later, with a vision to spread the love for licorice around the globe, Lakrids has built itself into a high-end, luxury brand with fans around the world. Making their products all on-site with raw materials, Lakrids prides itself on not being your average licorice. Now, with over 25 locations globally, operations have understandably expanded to meet demands, and Lakrids has added the QuickLabel QL-300 to its production line and uses it to print its high-end labels on the tops of their product jars.

The Power of CMYK + WHITE to Create High-End Labels

high-end labelsWhile QuickLabel was there, Lakrids expressed their appreciation and excitement about the quality of the white color, which influenced their decision to purchase the QL-300. With a desire to truly create something special, quality and branding are of utmost importance. 

So, when Lakrids was searching for a labeling solution, they were looking for a solution that would heighten their brand and, ultimately, add value to it. Lakrids wanted to print brilliantly beautiful labels to match the aesthetic of the brand, which is where QuickLabel came in. 

Tage Kusk, Technical Director at Lakrids by Bülow, said, “The QL-300 prints extra-wide like we needed to have the right background for our labels. The labels printed on the QL-300 look magnificent.”  

Kusk continued, “We get the labels on the same day, and we can change the design if we’re not satisfied since we have the flexibility to do so.” “Having the capability of printing with the white toner gave us a perfect look. The QL-300 can do so much more than you expect.”  

It’s All in the Packaging 

Lakrids by Büllow takes pride in not just selling a product but selling a design item.  They’ve found their customers enjoy the look of the product, and for this, Lakrids has become an icon.   

“The thing our customers should know about Lakrids by Büllow is that its quality and we care about every little part; not just the core part that you eat, but also about the packaging and labeling.”, said Kusk. 

high-end labels

  “We make the world love licorice!

Looking to Print Labels In-House?

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can print dynamic, luxury labels on-demand, feel free to contact us to schedule a virtual demonstration or speak with one of our specialists!

Top 4 Reasons Why You Should Be Printing Prepared Food Labels In-House

Many companies outsource their product labels to save on costs and maintain production efficiency. But when you break it down, is outsourcing really the most efficient route? Depending on your business size and needs, it could be more beneficial printing prepared food labels in-house.

Here are the top four reasons why taking label production in-house can be the better option:

1. Outsourced Printing Comes at a Price

While using another facility to produce your prepared food labels might seem like a giant weight off your shoulders, it may not necessarily be the case.  Outsourcing can end up severely delaying your labeling process, costing your business valuable time and money.

For example, if an outsourced label shipment becomes delayed, so will the orders your company was scheduled to have in stock and on the shelves. These delays will happen, as do errors.

Misprints can cause setbacks and affect the use by/sell by dates on your products. This is especially true for made to order businesses and prepared foods.

prepared food labelsThe best way to avoid these dilemmas is by investing in a small, short-run digital label printer to easily bring production in-house.

On implementing short-run digital label printers in-house, Impression Technology Europe reveals, “Not only is the initial investment much more affordable but the cost per print is extremely low. After doing the math, most clients will find it will be much more cost-effective than outsourcing, and based on the output.”

Our main alternative to outsourcing, investing in an in-house digital label printer will not only save you time but also reduce cost-per-label.

2. NOT ALL ENVIRONMENTS ARE CREATED EQUAL

frozen food labelsPrinting prepared food labels in-house have its benefits when varying environmental requirements come into play.

Just because some prepared foods need to be frozen, doesn’t mean the quality and appearance of your packaging should suffer. Your store’s frozen foods need to remain cohesive with the rest of your prepared food line. After all, it is your brand. However, using the wrong label for the products environment can lead to wrinkles due to condensation, fading due to exposure or loss of adhesion, and labels falling off.

If your business is using regular pre-printed labels, chances are, the labels won’t hold up in your storage environment.

Ultimately, finding the correct label material is just as important to your printed results as your design. AstroNova has developed special materials that are capable of absorbing the inks so that printed labels do not smear and reproduce the most accurate colors possible.

The ability to maintain complete control over your label materials and printing process will allow your business to have a streamlined, efficient process with branded labels that look the part.

One example of an easy in-house printing solution is the QuickLabel QL-120X, or wide-format QL-850 inkjet label printers. These printers are known for printing frozen food labels that are extremely durable.  With the right in-house printer, you’ll have professional frozen food or beverage labels printed instantly and can be applied to products that are already frozen, or before they go into the freezer.

3. It’s Not Easy to Keep Up with FDA Regulations & Demands

label nutrition facts table

Keeping up with the FDA’s changing regulations and formats can greatly affect your product labels. If standards are not met, your entire product line could suffer from massive recalls.

This intimidating process includes font restrictions, mandatory statements, allergen alerts, and stringent calculations for daily values.

As a food manufacturer or grocer, you want to spend your energy on your recipes, production, branding, and sales – not on interpreting FDA labeling mandates.

While it is absolutely necessary to adhere to FDA regulations to avoid recalls and present your customers with the quality and transparency they deserve, you can make it easier on your business.

This is where an in-house label printer truly shines. For every change in date, rule, format, etc., you can immediately customize your labels on the spot.

Printing prepared food labels in-house give you the ability to print the exact number of labels you need on-demand. Meaning no more wasted labels, no more overstock, and no more falling short.  This gives you more flexibility in your printing process, as well as introducing the option for seasonal or promotional packaging.

4. Things Are Better When You’re in Control

Your labels are the face of your brand, so you always want to maintain professionalism and put your best foot forward. If you want to be in control of your business and remove exterior dilemmas, it may be time to consider printing prepared food labels in-house.

Looking to Print Food Labels In-House? 

If you’re interested in high-quality, short-run label printing in-house, feel free to compare our line of complete labeling solutions, including software, media, and a wide range of digital label printers from monochrome barcode printers to photographic inkjet color labeling systems and presses.

Or, if you’d like to speak with one of our field sales engineers or media specialists, feel free to contact us for more information! They would be happy to work with you to find the right solution for your application.