Labels are important, they have been for many years and they will continue to be. They are not something you think about all of the time, and that’s because they have been such a big part of life for so long that they get taken for granted. When you think about what life would be like without any labels, then you may just understand the importance of them. Imagine trying to go shopping at a store that had nothing labeled. How would you be able to decide what you need to buy? How would you recognize if something you wanted to buy had something in it that you were allergic to?
There are many industries where both packaging and labeling are one of the most important aspects of the business model, many others are just very dependent on labels. A good label is a necessity for any brand that sells to consumers since the label is the face of their product. A good label can help launch a brand towards success, just like a bad one can hold them down. No matter what way you look at it, labels are an important form of communication in society.
These 3 industries below are all heavily dependent on labeling, and with good cause because of the importance of what they do.
Labels have been a necessity in the medical industry for many years now and the requirements are very strict due to the nature of the products. Labels are used on the tabs of medical record folders, in medical record storage locations, directional labels on medical devices/prescriptions, and much more. Physicians and their staff would be lost without labels, and patients would be confused since the label helps instruct them.
Over the counter medications have detailed usage and warning information for consumers. The label provides information including the active ingredient, common uses, warnings, inactive ingredients, the purpose of the medicine, expiration date, the name and address of the manufacturer as well as a batch code, net quantity, directions, and what to do in case of an overdose. At the bottom of the label is the “other information” section, which gives detailed storage information as well as required information about specific ingredients the product contains.
Prescription drug labels are overseen by the FDA, the U.S. Pharmacopeia and the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices. They are all in place to ensure that the proper information is always provided on all prescription labels. The information that needs to be provided on the label includes any warnings about the drug, the generic and name brand of the drug, a physical description of what the drug looks like, clear and easy to read dosage information, the pharmacy information, and the patient information including the prescribing Doctor.
All of this information needs to be typed in easy to read 12 point type so there is no confusion of the information provided. Prescription labels will vary depending on which pharmacy you use, but the information above needs to be on all of them. All prescription drugs will also have some other bright colored labels on them, and these are there to provide any warnings that the specific drug may have.
Medical device labels have been going through some changes and the new FDA requirements will be phased in over the next couple of years. The new system for medical devices is called “Unique Device Information”, or UDI. The information required with these UDI labels includes critical device information, instructions, as well as the unique ID number which will link the product to a UDI database where even more info about products can be found.
Food packaging is another industry where labels are essential since food products are for consumption. They provide product information such as ingredients and nutritional values, expiration dates, storage conditions, directions, and some other important pieces of information. Food packaging is one of the biggest industries for packaging/labeling and it continues to rise as new products come out all of the time. The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act was put into place in 1990, which standardized the required information on food labels.
Ingredient labels on food products are there so consumers can see exactly what is in the product which will factor into whether they purchase or not. This is especially important when they are on a diet or have allergies to certain ingredients that the product may contain. The nutrition labels on all food products are also a very important label that have information that people will look at when deciding what to feed their families. The nutrition label lists out the key nutrient information that the product contains, including standard serving sizes and nutrient reference values so the product can be factored into an overall daily diet. The required information for food labels is overseen by the FDA and they are always looking to find ways to make labels more informative to consumers.
Without labels in the shipping industry how would mail and packages get where they need to go? They wouldn’t, at least not near as easily as they do now. The whole shipping industry would be in turmoil if labels were gone tomorrow.
The shipping label serves many purposes but the most important is so a package can get from point A to point B. Shipping labels must be printed with black type so they are easy to read and the barcode on them needs to be clear so the scanning system can properly scan it. The barcode is an important part of the tracking process so the shipper, the receiver, and the shipping company can track the package at any time. There are minor differences in shipping labels depending on which company you choose to do the shipping, but the important information will be found on all of them.
Shipping label requirements are set forth by the Code of Federal Regulations and guidelines set by the Distribution Executives Interest Group (DEIG) and the Application Standard for Shipping Container Codes (ANSI/UCC – formerly Uniform Code Council). Items being shipped with the United States Postal Service (USPS) must include the cost of shipping, the class of shipping, the type of handling required, the contents of the container, in addition to where the item is going to and where the item is being shipped from. For any hazardous substance there are additional requirements that must be on the label stating that it is hazardous materials within. Any special instructions such as return receipt requests must also be included on the label and ANSI/UCC also recommends that labels are 4 inches by 6 inches. Labels should always be placed on top of the package and shipping labels should never overlap the seam of the package. All shipping labels should also be placed in an area where any sealants that may be on to a package will not cover the barcode or other critical shipping information.