Freezer Labeling Part 1: What is a Freezer Label?
Most business owners handling frozen products for the first time never think of freezer labels as a necessity. That is until they discover that their first ice cream batch has stickers that come off too easily, smudge or tear after thawing or make an unboxing nightmare after shipment.
Frozen products are subjected to the harshest conditions, and labels must be able to endure them as well. In this blog, we shall discuss why it’s important to have reliable freezer labels.
What Are Freezer Labels?
Freezer labels are special tags applied to items that need to be kept or processed under extremely low temperatures. They have the same parts as other labels: the facestock, adhesive, and, when self-attaching, a liner. They may look like ordinary stickers, but they are designed to withstand punishing conditions.
Where Do We Commonly Use Freezer Labels?
Unknown to the average consumer, freezer labels have wide industrial applications. Some of them are listed below.
Most perishables are kept in the cold. Freezer labels ensure that they get to the right distributor or consumer even when they’re all put in the same delivery truck or refrigerator. You see these stickers on seafood, dairy products, alcoholic beverages, frozen meals and a whole bunch of other edibles.
Most cosmetic products have preservatives, and those that lack them exist as stable solids. Meanwhile, some special facial masks and serums are best stored frozen. Freezer labels help consumers identify the right beauty products and let them know about their proper use and storage.
Many drugs and vaccines can lose their potency if they‘re not refrigerated before use. They can also accumulate microbes if they’re not stored properly. And if they’re inaccurately labeled, these products can cause medical errors. Freezer labels help avoid such slipups and protect patients.
In healthcare, freezer labels are used on specimen vials, blood products, tissue grafts and many others. These items need to be kept at subzero temperatures to prolong their shelf-life and make them available when needed. Cryo stickers ensure that these biological samples don’t get mixed up and harm patients.
There are innumerable items in need of deep freezing in the field of science. Enzyme solutions, tissue samples, liquid gases and chelating agent mixtures are just a few of them. Freezer stickers help researchers label these products correctly to ensure the reliability of their findings.
Winter in cold regions can bury engines and control panels in snow, which may not clear up for days. Maintenance, repair and normal use can endanger workers if machines and wires are not properly tagged. Weatherproof safety decals, which are special applications of freezer labels, protect workers by helping them identify the right equipment parts and avoid hazards.
Vehicles are also exposed to extremely cold weather in temperate countries like the US. Engine breakdowns and slippery steps can imperil both workers and customers. Weatherproof decals keep people safe by warning them of potentially dangerous sites.
Since freezer labels are so common, first-time entrepreneurs may mistakenly think that they can make them out of just any stickers. But as we mentioned in our blog, 16 Food Packaging Mistakes That Startups Should Avoid, packaging fails can occur because of inaccurate labeling. They can cause customer dissatisfaction and dent one’s business reputation. Knowing what goes into a freezer label can help avoid such marketing blunders.
Why Are Freezer Labels Important?
Knowing their applications, we can now see why durable freezer labels are vital to a lot of businesses.
They Help Accurately Identify Products
Frozen food packaging can all look the same were it not for labels. For example, frozen fish can be easily confused with some frozen pancakes as their boxes tend to look the same. Likewise, various ice cream makers use containers that, when left unmarked, can make them difficult to tell apart. Freezer labels aid consumers in recognizing products easily when they are placed in the same refrigerator.
Freezer Labels Aid in Branding
Durable tags ensure that brands and business logos remain recognizable to buyers even after exposure to harsh conditions. They also help retain customers, as eye-catching product labels create good unboxing experiences. Attractive packaging promotes your brand, while untidy ones, such as those with detached freezer labels, do the opposite.
They Ensure the Visibility of Product Usage Instructions and Warnings
Intact product labels protect consumers by keeping usage instructions and warnings readable. Sure, they can always call your customer service hotline for emergency questions, but not everyone has the time or patience to do that. It is best to ensure that the right product information is available to your clients when they need it, and freezer stickers let you do that. This helps enhance their brand experience.
Freezer Labels Speed Up Transactions and Inventory Organization
Freezer labels may be used for barcoding to quicken point-of-sale transactions and inventory organization. You can print UPCs, SKUs, pharmacodes, and other ciphers with these stickers, depending on the product and packaging. Reliable barcode labels boost sales, enable accurate information recording and help businesses in many other ways.
They Provide Information About a Product’s Creator or Distributor
In retail, manufacturer and distributor information is important as it bridges customers with sellers. This is indispensable in customer service, as in cases of product returns, side effect reporting, feedback, etc.
In healthcare and scientific research, analysts include their names in specimen labels for traceability. This helps improve services in these fields.
In these cases, freezer labels have a crucial role, so they have to be durable and stay container-bound for a long time.
Freezer Labels Ensure Regulatory Compliance
These special stickers let you write all information on your product packaging required by regulatory bodies like the FDA, TTB, FSIS, etc. Staying compliant with government policies protects both businesses and consumers. It ensures timely product launching and reduces the odds of market recalls. Consumers generally perceive compliant businesses more favorably than their non-compliant counterparts.
They Minimize Treatment Errors
Frozen pharmaceuticals, tissue grafts, blood products, etc. need the right labels, or healthcare workers will get them mixed up. Treatment errors kill thousands of Americans yearly, and so they must be avoided at all costs. Long-lasting freezer stickers reduce such mishaps. Their accuracy can be enhanced further when printed at the point of care using portable thermal printers.
Freezer Labels Ensure Safe Patient Handoffs
These special tags eliminate the guesswork during and after patient handoffs. Reliable freezer labels ensure that patient specimens are collected and analyzed properly during any work shift. They help enhance safety in many parts of the healthcare system.
They Serve as Safety Signs During Cold Seasons
These stickers can act as any-weather safety decals. They remain intact long enough to serve their purpose, which is to warn the public of danger’s presence. They help protect people from slippery steps, exposed electrical wires, hot engines and many other hazards.
Freezer Labels Reduce Research Errors
Freezer labels help researchers identify and analyze the right lab samples. Without them, data accuracy and credibility will be compromised. Good specimen and reagent organization, with the aid of these stickers, ensure timeliness of experiments. Dependable labeling systems help advance the sciences in many ways.
These are the biggest reasons why freezer labels are important. However, choosing the right materials is just as critical.
What Conditions Do Freezer Labels Endure?
Every label detail can make or break a business. With freezer labels, however, many of the aspects needing attention are not found in front. Awareness of the conditions that they endure can help avoid waste and customer inconvenience.
Freezing entails lowering of temperatures. Many changes take place when a substance cools down. Some of them are readily observed by the naked eye, but most are not. The following events influence the stability of frozen labels:
- Changes in the adhesive
Adhesives are soft at room temperature. As they cool down, the fluid molecules bind together more tightly. Impurities lower their freezing temperatures, but, once frozen, heterogeneous adhesives break more easily than homogeneous ones.
Generally, homogeneous agents, like hot melt adhesives, are less prone to freezing-induced fractures than heterogeneous ones, like emulsion acrylic. Freezing-induced fractures are common reasons for cryo label detachment.
Water-based and some plastic polymer adhesives tend to become brittle. Other molecular factors also influence tackiness at low temperatures.
- Changes in the facestock
Similar events occur in the facestock molecules. Refrigeration draws the particles together, stiffening the substance. Changes might not be noticeable on the outside. However, the slight contraction introduces shearing forces into the adhesive that can weaken the sticker bonds.
Freeze label facestock is normally made of paper or plastic. Others, like metals and fabrics, are less often used.
- Changes in the surface
What happens to the facestock also happens to the container surface. Imagine a carpet being pulled from under your feet. Molecular shifts do the same to the bonds between the container and adhesive. The disruption may lead to bond fractures if the wrong substances are used.
Materials on which freezer labels are attached can be metallic, plastic, ceramic or made of paper cardstock.
Refrigeration is just one condition that frozen products and their packaging are subjected to, but it’s the harshest and most prolonged one. The label must be able to withstand subzero temperatures and, at the same time, go well with the container.
The other significant phase in the freezer label’s lifecycle is thawing. While some refrigerators are equipped to eliminate frost, most retail and industrial ones are not. So the process of warming up is accompanied by significant water condensation around the container and label.
The following changes occur to the packaging as one takes it out of the frozen state:
- Changes in the adhesive
The adhesive softens as molecular interactions weaken. Dissimilar particles disperse at different speeds. Homogeneous adhesives do not change as much as heterogeneous types do. Water-based bonding agents can become less tacky when they mix with condensed water.
- Changes in the facestock
Moisture and warmth can soften the facestock. Wet paper labels are more prone to tearing than plastic types. Depending on the printing technology used, fonts and images can smudge, ruining the sticker.
- Changes in the container
Unseen molecular shifts also occur in the packaging because of the temperature rise. The container’s molecules are different from those of the adhesive, so they expand at different rates. This event may disrupt sticky bonds, detaching poorly designed freezer labels.
Depending on the product, the packaging can undergo repeated freezing-thawing cycles along with the freezer label. However, some may also be exposed to much higher temperatures after thawing. Healthcare vials can be autoclaved. Activated engines can heat up tremendously. Lab containers can be oven-dried to ensure weighing accuracy. Bottomline, a lot of things can happen to a freezer label that may ruin its appearance and reduce its usefulness.
How Important Is It to Choose the Right Freezer Labels?
Knowing the above information should make it easier to understand the importance of choosing the right freezer label materials.
Choosing the Right Freezer Label Materials Saves Time
When your stickers remain readable and stay put for long periods, they can let you proceed with your cold-temperature tasks efficiently. Imagine the checkout counter bottlenecks if refrigerated perishables lost their labels, and store clerks had to step out every time to find them. Inventory adjustments, specimen submissions, lab experiments, frozen goods sales, etc. can be done on time and hassle-free using well-made freezer labels.
It Helps Save Other Resources
Tags that come off easily will require you to perform the same labeling tasks all over again. In retail, they may result in slight irritation on the customer’s part. But in healthcare, they can turn into disasters!
Imagine, for example, if a health worker collected a tissue sample for biopsy and lost its label in the freezer. He would need to use another sampling kit and, even more unthinkable, ask the patient to go through the same painful procedure. Similarly, blood bank mislabeling will require retesting, or else, blood product infusions will harm patients.
Get the right kind of labels if you want to avoid these problems.
Getting Freezer Sticker Components Right Protects Customers
From our examples above, it’s easy to imagine how the right freezer labels can protect patients. But what about in other fields?
In retail, reliable freezer stickers keep consumers from picking up items they don’t like or can cause side effects. Manufacturer and distributor information help protect buyers’ rights and give businesses the chance to render good customer care. Consumers are also safeguarded from purchasing counterfeit items.
In manufacturing, transportation, and other industries, weatherproof safety decals protect both customers and employees from possible snow-related dangers.
It Helps Enhance One’s Business Reputation
Finally, as we’ve mentioned in our blog, The Importance of Safety Signs and Labels, a safety-oriented mindset boosts a company’s reputation. Prioritizing worker and customer well-being increases word-of-mouth advertising and helps promote a brand. A small investment in these special labels can bring huge dividends, so choosing the right type is very important.
So when you go shopping for stickers for your frozen products, do not choose just any kind. Find the right ones to save valuable resources and protect your business.
In summary, we have just explained the importance of freezer labels. We have defined what they are and described the changes they go through during freezing-thawing cycles. Their applications are wide-ranging, so choosing the right materials for these stickers is vital for business.
In our next blog, we will feature a guide in selecting the most appropriate freezer label materials.