One of the hottest topics in the world of labelling and narrow web packaging in recent years has been how to tackle the problem of toxic chemical components from printing inks (particularly UV cured) on packaging from migrating into foodstuffs, since it was first identified as an issue in 2005. Whilst the use of the chemical ITX was subsequently dropped, many customers and brand owners responsible for food and drink labelling have been keen to find a food safe packaging solution, particularly for digital labelling where growth is strong, especially after the further benzophenone scare in early 2011 where there was a major contamination episode in noodles in Germany. There are now special low migration UV flexo ink solutions, but our focus is on digital labelling for our shorter run requirements:
There are 3 principle digital label printing technologies:
- Xeikon dry toner electrophotography used by Mercian Labels
- HP Indigo ‘wet’ toner electrophotography with a solvent carrier
- UV inkjet that contains photoinitiators similar to those in UV flexo inks (see above)
Only the Xeikon process that we exclusively use for digital label printing has inks (toner) that are FDA approved for both indirect food contact and direct (non fatty) food contact, making them about as food safe as they can be. Specifying Xeikon QAi toner for all food labelling requirements is important for those responsible for food packaging as this is currently the only way of demonstrating that digitally printing labels are printed with food safe inks. This has only been available since its launch August 2010, and is an important development for the industry that some are still unaware of. You can download the official certification statement from Xeikon here.