Dr. Brian Nummer PhD

FOOD-SAFETY.GURU

ROP Label Printing

Many operators struggle to find the right solution for labeling ROP bags under the Food Code and their HACCP program.  Here a few reviews of products that have worked in our ROP lab to get you started.  (No endorsements implied, just tested).

zd500First there are two types of printing technologies for labels: direct thermal and thermal transfer. Direct thermal is the simplest.  There is no ribbon and the image is heat etched on the label.  Direct thermal media is more sensitive to light, heat and abrasion, which reduces the life of the printed material.  Thermal transfer printing uses a heated ribbon to produce durable, long-lasting images on a wide variety of materials.  The direct thermal should work well for ROP.  Labels are generally not needed for more than 30 days.

The printer that’s been tested is a Zebra brand.  Others may be equally suited.  They simply were not tested.  The Zebra model ZD 500 has several features that make it suitable for ROP at retail and food service.  Read the technical specifications here. The cost is approximately 575 dollars.  It does have both direct thermal and ribbon thermal.  This model would work best to integrate with many electronic HACCP systems in current use.  Cheaper models could suffice, but will have less functionality.

Labels require the ability to withstand cooking temperatures followed by cooling and refrigeration (or freezing) temperatures.  They must also withstand water submersion.  This latter requirement requires a polypro (plastic) versus paper label.  The Zebra label Polypro 4000 D has worked well in the test lab.  It has an all temperature adhesive that sticks well during cooking, cooling, and refrigeration.  We’ve not tested the labels under rough handling such as in tumble or jet chillers.  Unfortunately there are only a few sizes available.  The good news is that purchased in bulk each label might be less than 1-3 cents.  Fortunately, because labels are consumables, many vendors will send you samples to work with.  That way you can ensure they work before you buy them.

November 2014

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