Nutrition Label Update Preflight Tools
Fortunately, there are simple software solutions to help ensure compliance with the nutrition label update and other regulations, starting with preflight tools that can quickly scan a job and identify things like font size issues (see Figure 4). Preflight solutions highlight errors with text, fonts and other art elements based on a given set of print parameters. The tool then allows the operator to zoom in to desired areas to better evaluate and correct the violation, all within the native application (see Figure 5). Some solutions are very intuitive and act as a guide, allowing the user to move through the file and correct elements as needed; elements that include:
- Fonts (minimum point size of positive/negative/multi-color/serif/sans serif styles)
- Line weights (minimum point size of positive/negative/multi-color styles)
- Minimum/maximum dot
- Small objects
- Ink coverage infringements
- Image resolutions
- Inks: maximum process/max spot
Simplify & Automate Building Bar Codes with Dynamic Generators
However, an even bigger aid in ensuring regulatory compliance comes from incorporating dynamic content to build things like bar codes, nutritional panels and other content. This can be accomplished using a suite of tools with intelligence built in, to understand requirements and provide access to approved formats for that element.
Bar code generators aid in constructing bar codes with the correct bars and spaces, size, magnification, bar width reduction and height. Some bar code applications are offline from the native design software—so you generate the (raster-based) bar code and then place it into your design application. Since you are creating an image file, any change to that bar code requires going back to the application to generate a new code and then replacing the image file in the native application.
This is a fairly simple process that most prepress artists are familiar with; however, in part two of this article series (published in the October 2014 issue of FLEXO), I highlight the advantages of a dynamic bar code generator. An ideal bar code generator allows the operator to stay within the native application to design and edit a vector-based bar code. This streamlines the process and offers the artist enhanced control of bar code parameters and immediate visibility to the changes in the art file. Incorporating the ability to link XML data, you can further reduce operator touch points, thus building in layers of protection to minimize errors and maintain regulatory compliance.
You Are What You Eat!
Now let’s get back to where we started—nutritional panels. There are dynamic tools for nutritional panel generation as well. As teams of CPCs, designers, prepress providers and printers gather to determine the impact on their SKUs, we can expect a gradual escalation in urgency to adopt the new regulations and ensure all product labels conform. Will the new, slightly larger panel fit within the current layout? Is a dual-column panel required for the package? How are other art elements and package dimensions affected? Will gussets be large enough? Will seams need to be adjusted?
If manually building these panels, the process will likely be very arduous as the operator works to shift, add, remove, resize and re-key a lot of information, in addition to adjustments for the rest of the package. There are cloud-based solutions and other offline solutions to help more quickly generate panels that meet requirements. As with bar codes, it would be ideal to use a tool that allows the operator to remain in Adobe Illustrator to dynamically create and edit panels and incorporate XML data.
The nutrition label update is coming. Here are a few key things to consider when selecting your ideal software solutions for regulatory compliance:
- Tools reside within Adobe Illustrator
- Art is built on a non-destructive art layer
- Content is locked so it is protected from accidental, non-deliberate changes
- Changes are instantly mirrored within the art file via dynamic links
- Elements can be linked to XML data provided by the brand owner/manager
- A window can be opened allowing the prepress supplier to link other key individuals and decision makers as the package/label is being created
These things will all go a long way to improving efficiencies, ensuring consistency and minimizing potential errors. Ultimately, these solutions provide a little piece of mind that your package is updated based on current regulations. Groups like the FDA, USDA, GS1, EPA, etc. can be expected to continue to adjust packaging requirements based on our evolving understanding of business needs, consumer health and the products being packaged.
Make sure you are keeping your software solutions current so you can take advantage of easy updates. More importantly, if you haven’t already, start the process to investigate how the nutrition label update requirements will impact all your SKUs and open the channels of communication from CPC to the printer to ensure your production cycle is on track.
About the Author: Catherine Haynes is a member of the Technical Solutions Group for All Printing Resources. She has more than 20 years of experience in the printing industry and has been a certified G7 Expert for eight years. At APR, she assists sales technicians as a technical representative for various customer projects related to training, characterizations, prepress and pressroom assessments, color management, digital workflows, plate making and implementation or expansion of in-house prepress capabilities.