Meat labels as they currently exist don’t have much of a history, really, not even compared to other food labels. After all, commercial freezers and fridges didn’t come onto the scene until about a hundred years ago, so there was no need for freezer labels and refrigerator labels at all. Until then, people reserved most meat products in other ways.
Back in the ancient days, a “meat label” was basically its appearance and smell. You could pretty much tell all you needed to know from that, including the meat’s freshness. Sometimes there were a few color changes involved, but hey, you can’t let that slight green color put you off! All it takes is a few minutes in a fire to sear that away, and it adds to the flavor. Never assume that our ancestors were too proud to eat whatever they found lying around if it didn’t eat them first, or to wait patiently in the bushes for hours, until the lions or wolves finished up. before gathering the leftovers.
In time, we discovered meat preservation techniques like drying, smoking, and salting—coincidentally about the same time our lifespans suddenly increased. Even then, meat labels amounted to, at most, the different colors of bags you put your pemmican, summer sausage, and jerky into. Still, it was better than nothing.
About two hundred years ago, at the beginning of the Industrial Era, true meat labels finally showed up. Manufacturers needed these paper-and-glue inventions to tell people what was (supposedly) in the cans, tines, jars, and wrappers they were selling. Later, as governments caught on, they made the packers put more detailed meat labels on their packages, including all the ingredients, the origins of the meat, and eventually even its nutritional value. After 1913, when people could buy their own refrigerators, label scientists had to wrack their brains to invent new freezer stickers and refrigerator labels that remained stuck to the containers as temperatures plunged and moisture attacked the paper and glue.
The result is the glorious freezer label of today. In addition to classy meat labels, we have all the other necessities as well: popsicle labels, ice cream labels, pizza labels, sausage labels, and even frozen vegetable labels. Modern meat labels include not only the regulatory verbiage inherited from their ancestors, but also items included to make the product appeal to more customers. Aside from instantly recognizable logos, this can include images of varying scrumptiousness, notices that the meat comes from a sustainable population (for seafood labels), warnings about allergies (usually seafood labels again), and whether the meat is Halal (meets Islamic dietary laws) or Kosher (meets Jewish dietary law).
The future looks bright for meat labels, as long as there’s enough room to keep adding new gimmicks and info to draw people in. Got more questions? Ask us at Freezer-Labels.com!