Zego’s packaging aims for a new level of food safety

Rick Lingle in Food Safety on April 18, 2017

Superfood snacks maker Zego improves its proprietary batch-level QR code and adds an on-pack Call to Action to further promote awareness of food safety through allergen reporting.


Springtime is for many a season of flowering trees and plants and, alas, allergens. But what can be done about food allergens that are perennial, often serious concerns for a number of consumers?

Zego, a forward-thinking, San Francisco-based maker of superfood snacks, has a new twist on a food safety solution it pioneered in 2014: An on-package Quick Response (QR) code that provides batch-level allergen data on every product (see Food safety bar set higher with allergen-reporting QR code from April 2014 and Zego packaging boldly recasts allergen-level QR code from January 2015).

This spring, in conjunction with a three-product launch (shown above), Zego again pushes the envelope on allergen safety. Colleen Kavanagh, co-founder of Zego, shares news about the brand’s latest initiatives including a revamped, highly-flexible on-package QR code and proactive Call to Action on product boxes that aims to spark a consumer-driven movement.


Tells us about your new product launches.

Kavanagh: We have a fantastic new line of bars made from “ugly fruit” harvested from farms in Oregon, Washington and California that pack a huge burst of natural fruit flavor from just 2-3 fruit ingredients. For people looking for protein and heathy fats, we have another version with chia seeds added to provide protein and 600mg of healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

And for our original sunflower butter-based line, we are adding a new flavor called Lemon Ginger that features a deliciously spicy, anti-inflammatory combination of ginger, turmeric and black pepper.


Summarize your consumer-friendly, allergen reporting program.

Kavanagh: Every one of our bars is batch-tested for cross contact with top allergens and gluten. The products are manufactured in an allergy-free facility, which is the traditional standard for allergen safety, but cross contamination can occur anywhere from field to factory. So in addition to the many other precautions we take, we test the end product to see if anything slipped through. We call the Zego Quick Response Code our Z-Code food safety system. It’s the way people access the test results using their smartphones for the specific batch from which that bar was made.

What were the biggest challenges with the new look and design?

Kavanagh: We had two challenges. First was on the boxes. I really wanted to integrate the code into the artwork—it was a metaphor for how the transparency is integrated into our company, but we still had to make it clear that it was a QR code.

As background, smartphone cameras have evolved to a point where brands can integrate the QR codes into the packaging design without affecting the graphics, which makes the codes so much more usable for designers and brands. In fact, I had to ensure that they were still identifiable as QR codes.

We have a picture of the fruit the bars are made from on the boxes and wrappers and tried putting the code inside a piece of fruit. That didn’t work because fruit was the most important indicator about what was inside, and the code design interfered too much with that. Consumers didn’t first notice the fruit, they noticed the code—most of our customer actually don’t have allergies. They just love the clean, delicious superfood snacks.

But it worked perfectly when we put the code inside a leaf that’s part of the fruit’s artwork. The consumer first sees that the product inside features raspberries, for example, then they notice the cool leaf with a code in it and wonder and investigate why it’s there. 

A related challenge came about because the one-inch-wide fruit bars are smaller than our sunflower butter bars; we couldn’t fit a scannable QR code into the leaves in the fruit image for our wrappers. We opted for a square code that took up less space, though we were able to work with colors to make the code fit in with the overall design better.


What advice do you have about QR codes?

Kavanagh: When looking to place your QR, take care to put it in a part of the design that is unlikely to get crinkled or wrap around an edge if your machine is a little off. QR codes can be quite small and still scan, but they need to be as flat as possible.


Can you credit your design company?

Kavanagh: I’ve been using contractors from 99designs.com for my projects lately. If you have some background in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, you can get what you need for a fraction of the cost of a traditional designer in the SF Bay Area.


Next: A bold Call to Action


PACKEX and four other events are part of the Advanced Design & Manufacturing (ADM) Expo Toronto—Automation Technology Expo (ATX), PLAST-EX, Design & Manufacturing and Powder & Bulk Solids (PBS)—found under one roof May 16-18. For more, visit http://admtoronto.com



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