Label tech records essential chain of custody for donated breast milk

Epson-supplied label printing technology is helping its charity partner, the Human Milk Foundation (HMF), to distribute donor human milk to babies in hospital neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and families at home, such as mums with cancer, through The Hearts Milk Bank.

As the largest supplier of donor human milk in England and Wales, The Hearts Milk Bank has supported over 400 families facing feeding challenges and supplies milk to over 50 NHS hospital NICUs. As well as the Harpenden head office, HMF operates hubs countrywide in Kent, Norfolk, East Midlands, Swansea, Sussex, Northumbria and beyond.

Accurate labelling with specific information and QR codes is required for every step of the process. It begins at the initial point of delivery, through pasteurisation of the milk, freezing, and then the final dispatch to hospital or the baby’s home.

The charity has acquired from Epson a TM-C3500 ColorWorks label printer, accompanied with specialised labels from Magnum Materials called the 'Demand Jet Gloss C2075 Deep Freeze, which can withstand pasteurisation temperatures of 65 degrees and freezing temperatures at minus 22 degrees.

Flic Webster, HMF’s Director of Communications, says: “Reliable printers producing accurate, customised labels are crucial to the continuity of our service. Last month alone we printed over 9,000 labels so having equipment we can rely on is essential. Printing clear and precise labels with supporting documentation is critical to the timely processing and delivery of donor milk and the Epson label printer helps us to streamline our operations. Every bottle of donor milk needs the correct label to ensure it can be tracked at any point from arrival at the milk bank, through pasteurisation and microbiology screening, freezing and dispatch to hospitals and families.”

The sustainability gains of printing on demand were also a significant benefit of working with Epson. Flic continues: “Epson and HMF are like-minded organisations who share a mission to create a more sustainable future. It is wonderful to partner with a company that is so focused on finding ways to ensure it is sustainable while helping its customers make better choices as well. Sustainability is at the heart of our work, which meets 13 of UN Sustainable Development Goals. We are conscious of our carbon footprint and are currently piloting new projects such as moving from plastic to glass bottles at the milk bank which will require bespoke labels to support the recycling process.”

She adds: “We are very grateful for the support Epson provides and we look forward to continuing this innovative sustainability work together.”

Gavin Thurston, Business Development Manager for Business Systems at Epson (UK) Ltd, says: “We were delighted to be able to find a solution that worked well for the demands the labels would have to manage. We identified a label stock that would perform well, despite the temperature range, to ensure every container was processed correctly and delivered to the right destination. We look forward to continuing to support HMF in its vital work.”

The user-friendly Epson TM-C3500 ColorWorks colour label printer, ideal for the production of labels, tickets or tags, features high-quality print ensuring easy to read QR codes for consistently reliable scanning. 

About Human Milk Foundation

Human Milk Foundation is the largest supplier of donor human milk in England and Wales. The charity supports families to feed their babies including parents with premature or sick babies in hospital neonatal intensive care, families at home such as parents with cancer and other health conditions, and those who need support to overcome challenges with breastfeeding and establish their own milk supply. It has supported over 400 families facing feeding challenges and supplies donor milk to over 50 NHS hospital neonatal intensive care units in England & Wales.

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hmf, human milk foundation

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Key facts

  • The Epson ColorWors C3500 prints approximately 9,000 labels monthly at the Human Milk Foundation for use in sub-zero temperatures.

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