The parent company of Giant Food said Thursday that it plans to restrict toxic chemicals in food packaging and beauty products at its 2,000 grocery stores nationwide.
Ahold Delhaize, which also owns Food Lion, online grocer Peapod and other food chains, said the move is part of a new “sustainable chemistry commitment.” It includes working with suppliers to ensure product ingredients meet certain standards and find the root cause of contaminants.
“Consumers indicate they want more transparent products for their families, made with ingredients they can feel good about," Brittni Furrow, Ahold Delhaize’s vice president of sustainable retailing and healthy living, said in an announcement. The initiative will "bring more sustainable options, free from unwanted ingredients, to neighborhood grocery stores.”
Besides Giant, Peapod and Food Lion, the policy covers Ahold Delhaize chains outside the Baltimore market, including Giant/Martins, Stop & Shop and Hannaford.
“These commitments will help drive the creation of a more sustainable and healthy food and product supply for Ahold Delhaize USA’s customers, while increasing pressure on its competitors to do the same," Mike Schade, a director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families’ “Mind The Store” campaign.
But Schade urged the company to set a timeline for reducing and eliminating toxic chemicals. A report by the group in 2018 found a likely presence of PFAS in some store-brand products and packaging at Ahold Delhaize as well as at Albertsons, Kroger and Whole Foods Market.
Last year, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s announced steps to eliminate PFAS in food packaging.
Ahold Delhaize’s policy includes restricting “chemicals of concern,” such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), Bisphenol A (BPAs) and Phthalates in private brand products and their packaging and seeking sustainable substitutes. Grocers also will expand supplier testing requirements starting next year to ensure products meet the new standards.
The policy applies to branded products in categories including grocery, baby food and products, infant formula, laundry, home, personal care and cosmetics.
The company, the fourth-largest grocer in the U.S., will report annually on its progress as part of The Chemical Footprint Project.
Last year, Ahold Delhaize’s services company, Retail Business Services, agreed to remove all synthetic colors, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, sweeteners, MSG and high fructose corn syrup from all private brand products by 2025.