Vac pack labelling creates smooth traceability solution

Vac pack labelling creates smooth traceability solution

‘By making a seemingly small improvement to a vac pack traceability label used at the customer’s abattoir, we were able to eliminate what had become a significant irritation in the operation. Working together to understand the end-to-end process really helped us deliver the best solution.’

Food Traceability Labels


Our customer operates several abattoirs, processing and packing facilities across the UK. They have a long and successful history of beef and lamb processing and pride themselves on catering for nose to tail consumption.

Our customer is constantly seeking on-site process improvements to meet their vision to deliver safe and consistent quality meat products.


To maintain full traceability of the lamb through the meat packing process at one site, a small QR code label is applied to each vacuum plastic pouch that carries the meat. The QR label plays a vital part in the process as the code contains all the necessary information to produce the product label for the final consumer pack.

The operations team were finding that an unacceptable number of QR coded vac pack labels were coming off during the complex packaging process. Clearly this threatened to compromise traceability, as well as causing endless operational difficulties.

At peak times 100,000 vac packs per week are being labelled, so the failing QR code labels had a significant impact on operational efficiency and traceability.

Since Piroto was already supplying high quality traceability tags into other customer sites and had helped solve some tricky labelling issues for them, we were invited to find a solution.


The Piroto team have a high level of expertise in food traceability labelling, and the first step was to walk through the packaging process on-site to fully understand all the challenges.

We found that the trace labels passed through several processes and thus needed to be robust to stay attached and maintain full traceability throughout.

First, the label is printed with a QR code, then it is applied to the plastic vacuum pouch. At the point of application, the meat is inside the vac pack pouch, though the pouch is not sealed.

During the next step, the labelled vacuum pack passes through an automated line where the pouch is sealed. It then continues its journey through a warm water wash to sterilise and tighten the vac pack.

Once sealed and sterilised, the pack goes through an air blowing process to remove excess water from the surface.  At this point, the small QR code label is scanned, and the final product label is printed and applied, before the vacuum pack is loaded into a carton.


The adhesive, and vac pack label substrate, needed to withstand the wet and warm conditions during its journey through the packaging process. Having discussed the issues with Piroto’s internal technical team, it seemed likely that a more aggressive adhesive on the QR code label would solve the problems.

We tested a more suitable adhesive and found that the QR code labels survived both the warm water wash process and the air-drying process, remaining intact and scannable.


By walking through the operation and discussing the full traceability process we were able to identify the key issues quickly and easily, ensuring the new label did the job properly.

Specifically, the customer benefited from:

  • Significant time saving and improved operational efficiency as line stoppages, previously caused by missing QR code labels, have been eliminated
  • Robust traceability system with QR codes intact and scanning properly throughout the operation leaving no fears of audit failures
  • Increased accuracy as vac packs are now being correctly labelled at the end of the process
  • Less product wastage due to lost traceability.