As we race through the grocery store to secure all the necessary rations for the foreseeable future, it is easy to forget that many of these products have a significant relationship with the label and packaging. Suppliers and converters need to ensure that every food package protects the health of the consumer, and the ink plays a central role in that process.
Low migration inks are specifically designed to not end up inside the food packaging or food. Plus, these inks support numerous other industries, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and more. By protecting the product, brands are protecting the consumer.
"Low migration inks should be used for labels and packaging where there is the potential for inks and coating to taint the product being labeled or packaged," says Tom Hammer, head of technical marketing at Siegwerk. "This is especially true for food and pharmaceuticals, where the consumer does not want odor, taste or appearance to be altered by the package. Since low migration inks are formulated with higher molecular weight raw materials and chemistries that don't bleed or migrate, the end product to the consumer will be unaffected."
"With low migration inks, a lot of extra measures have been taken, especially with special raw materials, to minimize the migration of unreacted species that risk ending up in the food and altering the taste and characteristics of the food stuff" explains Henrik Bernquist, Flint Group's product manager, EMEA and APAC, Narrow Web.
As ink technology continues to improve, demand has surged for these products--especially in Europe. "Today, low migration, UV curable inks are used widely across central Europe, and we feel the pull for these products expanding into all of Europe, the US, LATAM and Asia," says Niklas Olsson, global brand manager at Flint Group. "This technology has grown exponentially and growth will continue. The demand comes from global brand owners as they extend their requirements in other regions, but it is also being gradually supported by local regulations."
Bernquist adds that product knowledge and consumption of low migration ink systems continue to grow, with Europe being a driving force. Flint Group has seen a steady increase in low migration ink consumption, with significant growth each year.
According to Ed Dedman, flexo technical support manager at Zeller+Gmelin, "Our company manufactures UV flexo inks and coatings using the 'FCM' (food contact materials) designation, which will commonly be used as a reference for products intended for low...