Americans throw out about $161 billion worth of food each year, and consumer uncertainty about the meaning of the dates that appear on the labels of packaged foods is believed to contribute to about 20 percent of food waste in the home.(1) To dispel this confusion and reduce food waste, the FDA is pushing for clearer food labels.

Food companies can more effectively communicate a product’s freshness with smart packaging labels that do not rely on specific dates. By using smart labels and track-and-trace technologies, food companies can ensure products have been handled properly throughout the supply chain and are safe for the consumer to eat.

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Advancements in packaging and processing are actively expanding shelf-life and keeping foods fresher and safer for longer. High pressure processing, modified atmosphere packaging and vacuum processing all help to maintain oxygen and moisture levels, retaining the quality of food over extended periods. These technologies help eliminate food waste by ensuring products stay safe and fresh beyond their suggested expiration dates.

The demand for clearer labels also requires manufacturers to utilize higher quality printing technologies that can communicate information in a crisp, legible manner. Packaging will rely on more durable inks that do not fade or wash off when exposed to various elements throughout the supply chain. Digital printing will become more valuable than ever as specific “best by” and “use by” dates are assigned to smaller product batches; the technology allows for easier and faster switchover between runs and reduces downtime.

PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2019 (Sept. 23–25; Las Vegas Convention Center) co-located with Healthcare Packaging EXPO 2019 produced by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies,  offer the latest packaging technologies to help manufacturers improve operations and stay competitive. Combined, they bring together 2,000 exhibitors and 30,000 attendees over 900,000 net square feet of exhibit space from more than 40 vertical industry markets and nearly 130 countries. The show’s PACKage Printing Pavilion will bring together suppliers of cutting-edge digital printing and smart packaging technologies.