A small, hand-held disposable device for detecting protein on surfaces in food preparation and packaging areas is the latest innovation achieved with the help of self-adhesive labels. Orion Clean Card PRO, the patent-pending device from Orion Diagnostica, leading Finnish specialists in diagnostic testing systems and hygiene monitoring, was the result of teamwork with the company’s expert label printers, Auraprint Oy, and VTT, the Technical Research Centre of Finland.
The product has taken more than five years to bring to perfection – and it has already received two accolades for innovation: the Finnish Chemical Industry Innovation Award in 2010 and, just recently, an Innovation Award in the FINAT 2012 Self-adhesive Label Awards – the self-adhesive label industry’s international annual competition recognising and rewarding high achievers in the creative use of the self-adhesive laminate.
Self-adhesives labels have contributed much to food and beverage packaging over the years, thanks to their combination of functional and aesthetic characteristics. The laminate of label facestock (paper or film), adhesive, and release-coated liner delivers high-quality print, an exceptional choice of possible label shapes and sizes, and fast, easy, accurate automatic dispensing. Additionally, multiple labels may be applied in one machine pass; security devices may be encapsulated in or under the label face; and over-the-cap seals on such items as baby foods provide tamper-evidence. Permanent, removable, and even wash-off adhesive choices meet every requirement. These are all qualities which food and beverage manufacturers value highly.
Now, however, the self-adhesive laminate is contributing a different but complementary innovation for the food processing and food service market. The Orion Clean Card PRO test, wiped over a moistened working surface, responds to any protein residue by changing color within just 30 seconds. The presence of protein indicates inadequate cleaning – thus helping to prevent the spread of food poisoning pathogens between food, surfaces and equipment. The Orion Clean Card PRO combines complex chemistry, materials science, and print technology to deliver this practical device.
Technical team co-operation
The project was initiated in 2006, when planning and practical testing began in Auraprint’s Vantaa premises, with some of their older label presses being substantially modified to accommodate specific converting needs – but there has been much achieved since those early days.
The production process
Today, Auraprint can produce the Orion Clean Card PRO test in just a single press pass on an adapted ten-color rotary letterpress machine, using four materials rolls, four printing units, and three diecutting units. Says Auraprint’s Managing Director Tero-Matti Kinanen: “This is a challenging and complex process, because we must maintain equal tensioning of the four different material rolls accurately throughout the process, and at the same time keep the printing and diecutting units in register.”
The device’s speed and efficiency were quickly accepted in the market as valuable additions to food hygiene practice in food manufacture, packaging, retailing, and catering. Kinanen continues, “Without the self-adhesive label laminate, the Orion Clean Card PRO test would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, to manufacture cost-effectively and efficiently in large quantities. Our familiarity with the self-adhesive label printing process was certainly a key factor in our success in delivering a first-class product to Orion Diagnostica.”
Food manufacturers and caterers around the world can now benefit from this addition to their professional batterie de cuisine – which is now, unsurprisingly, also finding use in the medical arena, checking the cleanliness of hospital wards.