Hospital patients could soon be tracked using barcodes

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock has vowed to invest £487 million on technology for the Health Service to make it one of the most advanced in the world, including introducing barcodes and mobile apps to track and monitor patients.

Wristbands etched with barcodes will be used to track patients as they travel through different departments and wards within the hospital, while advanced mobile apps will monitor blood pressure and other vital signs at home, allowing patients to be diagnosed and discharged quicker.

In plans laid out by Mr Hancock, £412 million will be made available to the NHS to update technology and improve patient care in hospitals, while a further £75 million will be available for health trusts to replace existing paper-based systems with electronic systems.

This new comes after surgeons warned that many NHS hospitals still rely on fax machines and 15+ year old computer systems. Mr Hancock in his speech said, “Because we are one NHS, our health system is uniquely placed to become the most advanced health system in the world”

Adding, “The patient safety agenda is important to me and I strongly believe that technology has the power to further enhance safety and improve outcomes for patients.”

Mobile apps are already being trialled at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, where they are used to discharge patients faster and several trusts are already using barcodes to tack patient’s movements and current location within the hospital.

The Health Secretary believes that technology can not only play a huge part in reducing staff workload, but with ultimately improve patient care.

Smart packaging sector continues to evolve as consumers demand more

Smart food packaging is continuing to evolve at a staggering rate as consumers look to make more informed choices about the food they eat as well as reduce waste, with scientists all over the world working on new and improved packaging.

One of the many recent packaging solutions that has gained traction this year is from London-based company Skipping Rocks Lab which packages its Ohoo! Water in an edible and biodegradable seaweed membrane, which can be eaten or thrown away without harming the environment. The packaging is still in its early stages, but Skipping Rocks Labs is confident that it will be hitting the mass market soon and is dedicated to creating waste-free packaging alternatives.

Many food items available today already carry QR codes, which can be scanned using a smartphone and can tell the consumer extra nutritional information about a product, but what else is going on in the smart packaging sector?

Packaging Design is as innovative as ever!

Consumers are constantly looking for products and packaging that fits into their lifestyles, whether they need something on the go or some handy serving suggestions, consumers appreciate packaging that fits their needs.

We now see a wide range of products in re-sealable packaging or individually wrapped to keep things fresh, but with consumers voicing concerns about sustainability manufacturers have turned to technology to make sure that their packaging can be fully recycled.

Just in the way that technology has made it easier and more secure to pay for items via smart payment methods such as Apple Pay and Contactless, technology is now playing a role in packaging design as manufacturers look to lead the way in tomorrow’s ‘connected’ household.

QR codes are a common way to give consumers additional information about food products, but smart packaging has the ability to go further than that, giving consumers up to date information about quantities left, how fresh the produce is and suggesting recipes based on the products in the vicinity.

Technology Enhances Food Safety

We have already seen some manufacturer’s use smart packaging to enhance food safety by alerting consumers when the contents have spoiled. Tiny sensors are placed on the food that monitor such things as temperature and time, give the consumer up to date information about the product.

As technology improves we can expect to see packaging capable of detecting different types of bacteria to warn consumers about any harmful substances and remind them to cook their food thoroughly before consuming.

From packaging designs which allow products to be stored more easily, to embedded sensors to inform the buyer, smart packaging is set to become ever smarter in the near future.

New GE Appliances smart microwave

Do you even get confused with the array of cooking instructions on your food when using your microwave? Then GE Appliances has you covered. Their new Alexa- powered microwave allow you to scan the bar code on your food, sending it straight to the microwave to cook it perfectly every time.

By using the GE Appliances Kitchen App, users can scan the barcode of the food they want to cook, and the app will send the microwave the exact cooking times and power levels for best cooking results. This will be a relief for those who are easily confused by the variety of power settings and cooking modes that feature on modern microwaves.

The stainless steel GE Smart Countertop Microwave is rated at 900 watts and comes pre-programmed with over 3,000 frozen, refrigerated, and self-stable foods with more being added to the app all the time. The microwave is also Wi-Fi enabled and is compatible with Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, meaning that users can turn the microwave on and off, add extra time and change the microwave settings through voice commands.

Christian Taubman, Amazon Smart Home Devices director talked about the new GE Smart Countertop Microwave saying, “We’re excited to work with GE Appliances to continue extending the convenience of Alexa to the kitchen,”

Adding, “We think customers will love the simplicity of hands-free voice control whether popping popcorn or preparing the perfect meal.”

The GE Smart Countertop Microwave Oven is available in the United States now for $139 or $155 if bought with Amazon’s Echo Dot; it is not known when it will be available in the UK.

Scientists make smart labels that change colour, warning when food has gone off

The days of getting food poisoning from spoiled food could be a thing of the past after a team of scientists at Clarkson University, New York created a pioneering paper sensor capable of detecting when food is no longer edible.

With over a million cases of food poisoning reported in the UK each year, this could be the breakthrough the industry and consumers need to help them stay healthy. The paper labels monitor the levels of contaminates, antioxidants and free radicals and change colour when the food is no longer safe to eat.
The team also hopes to develop labels that could identify potentially dangerous bacteria, such as salmonella and E. Coli. Team leader Professor Silvana Andreescu also stated that the sensors could be used for more than just food products, saying that they could be utilised in the cosmetics industry warning consumers when a products is no longer safe to use.

The industry has welcomed this new development in smart labels, which could help to combat food wastage in the UK. Recent figures from the Waste Resources Action Programme (wrap) state that the average household throws away over £700 worth of food each year, and estimates that around half of us throw away food that is still edible due to confusing use-by dates.

The team at Clarkson University, New York are still in the testing phase of these sensors and hopes to get them to market in the near future.

Security Labels – keeping your company’s assets safe

Security labels can be used in a wide range of different situations, such as anti-theft and anti-counterfeit labels, genuine product seals and for asset protection. Police forces also use them to secure evidence bags and forensic samples to protect against tampering.

Here at DataLabel we specialise in a wide range of security labels from void and tamper evident labels to custom and bespoke security labels; here are some of the labels we offer:

Void Polyester Labels
Our void polyester labels are made with a special combination of coatings and laminates making it hard to remove but cannot be repositioned undetected. These double layered labels show the word void when they have been tampered with meaning that you can easily see when something is wrong.
These types of labels are commonly used by manufacturers as warranty stickers, but can also be used for packaging or repaired by labels.

Tamper Evident Labels
Different from void polyester labels, tamper evident labels are made from vinyl and cannot be removed in on piece, rather it will split into many pieces making it evident that the piece was tampered with.
Tamper evident labels are popular in the food industry for packaging so that consumers can spot that an item has been tampered with, but they also have applications for packaging, warranty stickers and company assets.

Self-Voiding Security Labels
Tagging an asset used to involve fixing a metal tag to a piece of equipment with the company details engraved on, but as technology and printing methods have grown we are now able to offer self-voiding security labels, making it much easier to tag your company assets.

The main advantage of our self-voiding labels is that they can be applied to any surface without the need to drill any holes or punch any rivets. Self-voiding security labels can be customised to your specifications and when the seal is removed it cannot be resealed.

If you would like to know more about our security labels and how we can help, call our experienced team on 01293 551520 or fill out our online enquiry form for a free quote.

Climate labelling scheme for restaurant menus gains financial support in Sweden

CarbonCloud, a service dedicated to helping the global food industry to lower its carbon footprint has been given a start-up grant by the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre. The grant will allow CarbonCloud to continue to develop its web based service CarbonAte, which helps restaurant managers and chefs to develop and endorse climate smart dishes.

The website calculates the environmental impact of every food ingredient in a given dish, producing a climate label that can then be added onto restaurant menus to give consumers a clear climate calculation for dishes.

A representative from the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre Group said that the CarbonAte system had ‘fantastic potential’ adding, “It is an innovation in which digitalisation and sustainability go hand in hand, and which creates an aid which benefits the environment and restaurants, as well as individual guests and visitors.”

Talking about CarbonAte, CEO of CarbonCloud David Bryngelsson said, “Our climate labelling service makes things clearer for both chefs and restaurant guests, and has been received with real enthusiasm.”

In March this year, CarbonAte began working closely with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which also launched its One Planet Plate scheme recently and aims to work with restaurants to put sustainability first when it comes to the dishes on their menus. This collaboration has meant the continued development of the Food Calculator, which will allow individuals to calculate the environmental impact of certain ingredients.

Would seeing climate labels on menus make you think twice about the food you eat at restaurants? Answer in the comments below.

UKHospitality says proposed mandatory menu calorie labelling would represent burden for restaurants

The Department of Health and Social Care has asserted that it will move forward on introducing mandatory calorie labels on restaurant, café and takeaway menus to give consumers a clear choice about what they and their families eat, but UKHospitality has voice concerns about the proposal stating that it would represent a significant burden for businesses, especially small outlets.

The proposal is party of the government’s plans to reduce child obesity, but retailers are voicing their concerns as it would present obstacles for the industry and could be complex to initiate.

UKHospitality’s CEO, Kate Nichols said, “The out-of-home sector supports workable efforts to promote healthier eating habits, as demonstrated by the proactive actions already in reformulating menus to reduce calories and increase transparency and choice for customers. However, the introduction of mandatory menu calorie labelling would represent a significant burden for businesses, particularly smaller operators.

“Many venues already choose to show calorie content on their menus, with many high street brands giving customers an unprecedented level of information but the reality is that smaller businesses will struggle to do so. It would impose a serious additional cost for many businesses facing tightening margins, increased operating costs and wider economic instability.”

UKHospitality also said that mandatory calorie labelling would hinder establishments from incorporating seasonal food on menus and special dishes to attract customers because of the extra cost involved.

Mrs Nichols added, “Furthermore, calorie labelling would largely fall outside of the government’s targeting of obesity among lower income children, as obesity in that demographic is less likely to be caused by dining in restaurants.”

What do you think? Should calorie labelling on menus be mandatory? Leave your comments below.

European Commission announces new origin of ingredients labelling rules

The European Commission has announced a new initiative affecting the rules on labelling the origin of primary ingredients in food. The new rules, voted for by the member states means that the origin of the primary ingredient in a given food item must be clearly marked if it is different from the origin of the food.

This new rule will come into force from 1st April 2020 and is designed to not deceive consumers and to synchronise the labelling of ingredient information throughout the member states. The European Commission said that the new rules would help to ensure a high level of transparency and provide EU consumers with clear information about the origin of food and ingredients sold in the EU.

The new rules have been discussed for some time, but it is initially thought the labelling changes will be voluntary in the beginning, however, for brands wanting to use the new labelling system it would be mandatory to specify the origin of the main ingredient if it is different from the country of the food. There will also be a certain amount of flexibility to the new rules to take into account the different methods of food processing adopted throughout the EU.

Earlier this year, the UK food industry was told that it would have to with any forthcoming rules regarding origin labelling to continue a free trade agreement for food produce post-Brexit.

Tips for Developing Purposeful Packaging for you Brand

People’s tastes are changing when it comes to packaging, is it recyclable? Does it impact my environmental footprint? Is it sustainable? These factors are what is driving consumers when it comes to looking at products and identifying with brands, and packaging can make a big statement about your company values, the products you sell and your brand, so packaging planning is key to creating the right message.
Creating purposeful packaging is making sure that your packaging does more than just being a container for your product. It is packaging that encompasses extra benefits, more functionality, your values and enhances consumer experience.

Studies have shown that consumers buy products and services from brands and companies that align with their values and preferences, with many being willing to spend more on sustainable products and prioritising buying products and services from companies that they trust.

Consumer preferences and innovation is pushing sustainable packaging forward, especially as people are moving to brands that embrace environmental responsibility. Companies in turn are communicating these values through their products, with packaging fast becoming one of the most important mediums for communicating these practises and providing information to consumers about the products they are buying.
It is good practice to be transparent with your information on your packaging, because where you source materials and ingredients for your products is a big selling point, especially if they are from sustainable sources. Being transparent is also key to building brand loyalty, and can separate your products from your competitors.

There is no one-size-fit-all when it comes to packaging, but with the proper consumer insights and by targeting your audience you can choose the best attributes for your unique selling points while gain customers and brand loyalty.

eBay now let’s sellers scan product barcodes to autofill listings

One of the most time extensive tasks to do when selling things on eBay is setting up listing for every product. Taking pictures, writing descriptions and setting a realistic price takes a lot of work, but eBay has just released a new setting to change all of that.

eBay has updated its iOS and Android apps to let sellers scan a product barcode which automatically fills out the items details in a matter of seconds. Simply scan the items barcode on the box and state the condition of the item. Once eBay identifies the product it automatically fills in the necessary details like item description and stock pictures, and even suggests a starting price based on much the product has sold for before on the platform.

If you don’t have the barcode, don’t worry, you can also use the search box to search for the product manually. All of the item details, pictures and price can still be edited if you are not happy with eBay’s suggestions.

According to eBay, this new setting is aimed at new seller wanting to try out the platform, but can also be a great service for power seller that are listing hundreds of different items on their eBay shops.

Amazon already offers a similar system to its FBA sellers, but eBay’s adoption of barcode technology will certainly be a welcome sight for new and experienced seller alike.

Are you an eBay seller or are looking at selling items on the platform? Would you use this new feature? Let us know in the comments below.

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