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A.F. Blakemore Gets Ready for Natasha’s Law

September 17, 2021

AFB prepares for Natasha's Law

After a year of planning, A.F. Blakemore is in the final stages of preparation for the introduction of Natasha’s Law.

Natasha’s Law, also known as the UK Food Information Amendment, comes into effect across England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 1st October and will require food businesses to provide full ingredient lists and allergen labelling on foods pre-packaged for direct sale on their premises.

The law is named after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who tragically died in 2016 after suffering an allergic reaction to a store-bought baguette. As a result, the government confirmed that stronger laws would be implemented to protect those with allergies and reduce the risk of further tragedies.

At AFB, the change in the law will most significantly affect the company’s food-to-go operations in SPAR and Philpotts stores, for example changing the labelling requirements for sandwiches, salads and baked products that are produced and packaged on-site.

For business-to-business divisions, the challenge will be making product data more readily available to customers and supporting independent retailers who are also having to update their labels to prepare for the law change.

Group Technical Manager Ann Smiles, who has led the company’s preparations for Natasha’s Law, commented: “This amendment to the current food labelling laws will result in changes across the food-to-go sector, really challenging the culture and practices around supply chain management and in-store food production.

“Food labelling now has to be much more detailed and informative, and the controls across our business have to be more robust to avoid errors that could be fatal.

“Thank you to all the colleagues – from Trading, Marketing, Retail, Trade Partners, Logistics and Food Safety – who have been involved in the massive project to improve our allergen management. You have contributed vital work that could ultimately save lives. We’ve also had great co-operation and assistance from our suppliers.”

A.F. Blakemore has invested significantly in systems and resources to ensure compliance with the new law.

Starting last December, colleagues began identifying all food pre-packed for direct sale across its sites and the ingredients and recipes involved. Products have been reviewed to assess their allergen risk and removed from ranges if deemed a food safety risk.

The company has invested in a new cloud-based recipe management software solution that will store ingredient data centrally and enable the business to produce accurate and legally compliant food labels. The business has had to produce circa 450 new labels for its food-to-go products, which will need to be kept up to date moving forward. Two new food safety team members have been recruited to manage the new software system and labelling process.

There has also been a huge investment in new label printers for stores. From October, all Philpotts stores and 172 Blakemore Retail stores with food-to-go departments will be required to print off fully compliant product labels on-site.

Meanwhile, Blakemore Foodservice has invested in a product information management system that will help provide its customers with essential ingredient and allergen information.

To support store colleagues and others across the supply chain affected by the law changes, the company has updated its training on food safety and allergens. A new e-learning module on allergens that is bespoke to AFB is currently being rolled out to store colleagues, with more than 3,500 having already completed it.

AFB is also offering a support package to independent retailers who would like assistance with ensuring compliance with Natasha’s Law. This includes support with providing a compliant food-to-go range, production instructions, hardware, help with training store staff and a support network of AFB colleagues who can help retailers maintain compliance after the initial introduction of the law. 

New labels and printers

New printers will enable stores with food-to-go departments to print off product labels with full ingredient and allergen information


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