We actively pursue growth through leadership in environmental, socially responsible and ethical business practices. Corporate social responsibility is core to our operating philosophy, and that commitment drives our dedication to People, Products, Community and the Planet. That commitment extends to our supply chain, and our suppliers play a critical role in ensuring that we manage our business in a responsible manner.
Supply Chain Transparency
In 2010, the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (also referred to as SB 657) was signed into law, and statutes enacted under the Act went into effect on January 1, 2012. The Act requires disclosure of particular efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking.
We are committed to conducting its business in a lawful and ethical manner and expect our suppliers to conduct themselves in the same manner. We have implemented various policies and procedures in our efforts to prevent slavery and human trafficking in our supply chains. This disclosure will describe some of those efforts. With the assistance of a third-party consultant, we survey our merchandise supply chains in order to evaluate and to address risks of slavery and human trafficking inherent in those activities. This survey forms the basis for additional anti-slavery, anti-human trafficking efforts, including targeted supplier requirements and third-party audits.
We have long used contractual provisions prohibiting the use of involuntary labor and child labor, and requiring compliance with applicable labor and employment laws, in the production of merchandise that we sell. We have a stringent Supplier Code of Conduct (“Code”) that sets out specific standards and requirements for any supplier we do business with which includes provisions to protect workers. Among other things, the Code requires our suppliers to allow factory inspections for contractual compliance, as well as for compliance with laws and regulations dealing with child or forced labor and unsafe working conditions.
In our efforts to confirm compliance with such contractual provisions and to document compliance with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, each of our merchandise suppliers has been asked to certify that the materials incorporated into the merchandise they supply complies with applicable laws regarding slavery and human trafficking. Suppliers are also required to ensure that any subcontractor used in the manufacturing or distribution of any merchandise to us complies with the same standards.
Any supplier that is not able to provide the foregoing certification will be required, as a condition to continuing to supply merchandise to us, to submit an action plan to achieve such certification within a reasonable period of time. Those suppliers that fail to comply will be subject to increasing levels of discipline, up to and including termination of their relationships.
In an effort to verify supplier responses and to help us identify areas of increased risk of slavery and human trafficking, we are requiring that our suppliers complete a survey identifying measures they have taken, or intend to take, to prevent these abuses.
We have reviewed the risks of slavery and human trafficking presented by various parts of our supply chain and has inspected the factory premises of the suppliers of our own-branded merchandise for evidence of non-compliance with slavery and human trafficking laws. In addition, we have, on a risk-based basis, engaged third-party auditors to review compliance of certain suppliers with international social accountability standards.
Responsible employees have been advised of our prohibitions against the use of slavery and human trafficking in our supply chains. Additionally, we have implemented training requirements for employees with sourcing responsibilities.
Supplier Sustainability Guidelines
Albertsons Companies is always working to improve the sustainability of our products, and one big way we can do that is to look at the ingredients we use. Our sourcing team is shifting our buying choices toward ingredients that were produced in more socially and environmentally responsible ways.
We are guided by a commitment to protect the planet we live in, conserve its natural resources and preserve it for future generations. The health and vitality of our neighborhoods depends on our ability to achieve this.
There are many ethical standards that guide our environmental efforts and assure we do our part to protect against any harmful impacts. It is Albertsons Companies policy to:
- Conduct our business and operate our facilities in an environmentally responsible manner
- Comply with all applicable environmental laws and regulations
- Minimize waste and reduce pollution sources in our stores, corporate offices, and manufacturing and distribution facilities
- Minimize our environmental liabilities in the acquisition and disposition of properties
- Encourage and assist our customers, vendors and employees in utilizing sound environmental practices
We also believe every Albertsons Companies employee has a responsibility to minimize the environmental impact of his or her job whenever possible. This includes following all laws, regulations, rules and standards, and making appropriate reports to management and regulatory agencies. Environmental stewardship is an important part of the character of our company, and we encourage our employees to improve the company’s environmental performance.
Albertsons Companies relies on the FDA to set minimum regulatory requirements. Beyond FDA guidelines, we subject our fresh seafood vendors to a selection process that includes confirming compliance with regulations and food safety standards, as well as a review of the environmental impact of the product sourcing.
To date, the FDA has not approved any GE salmon for human consumption. Should GE salmon come to market, we are not considering nor do we have any plans to carry GE salmon.
Bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA, is an industrial chemical that has been used for more than 40 years in the manufacture of many hard plastic items and in the linings of metal cans. It is used in some packaging and utensils for food and beverages such as plastic water bottles and infant bottles, children’s drinking cups, and hard plastic dishes. In January 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states: “… studies employing standardized toxicity tests have thus far supported the safety of current low levels of human exposure to BPA. However, on the basis of results from recent studies using novel approaches to test for subtle effects, both the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health and the FDA have some concern about the potential effects of BPA” on the health of infants and young children. The FDA continues to conduct in-depth studies regarding risks related to BPA. However, consumers still have legitimate questions about the safety of BPA.
While Albertsons Companies private label products are compliant with FDA regulations, we also understand that BPA in food containers, and other packaging and products, poses a concern for some consumers. In response to these concerns, Albertsons Companies food safety team has been closely monitoring third-party research on BPA and its effects. We have asked industry trade associations such as the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers of America to do the same. The company’s principal objective has been to find ways to limit the presence of BPA in several areas.
For example, our immediate priority was to remove BPA from products that commonly are used by small children, including baby bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers and utensils. Several years ago, we notified our suppliers that we would no longer accept products such as these. That transition happened in all stores, not just those where specific BPA-free packaging is mandated by law.
Albertsons Companies has been working with private label product suppliers to identify acceptable alternatives to packaging containing BPA. It is our desire as a company to use BPA-free packaging for as many products as possible. We expect to make the transition on an ongoing basis as new options become commercially available. In the meantime, using alternatives that are currently available, we have made notable packaging and product changes. In addition to those changes noted to the above children’s products, we have eliminated the use of register paper containing BPA. We now utilize alternative packaging including aseptic pour cartons on some products, including O Organics soups.
For customers who have additional concerns and are looking for ways to reduce their exposure to BPA, we suggest they visit the FDA’s website on BPA. The site contains helpful links to scientific information and tips on reducing exposure.
At the Albertsons Companies, we believe that shoppers should always have a choice in selecting products that align with their lifestyle and budgets. As part of our ongoing efforts to provide that option, we require that all Albertsons Companies brand suppliers meet USDA and FDA regulations. To date, the USDA, FDA and available science make no health or nutrition distinction between approved Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and non-GMO products and ingredients.
Our stores carry more than 45,000 products. This includes approximately 9,500 of our own brand products. For instance:
- Our O Organics™ line meets USDA organic standards, which do not allow the use of GMO ingredients. Albertsons Companies further requires that all of its O Organic™ suppliers obtain third-party organic certification;
- Albertsons Companies Open Nature® line of products, which contain no preservatives or artificial flavors and already include a number of non-GMO products. We’ve begun the process to obtain Non-GMO Project verification for our Open Nature product line;
- Our stores also carry a wide array of organic produce; and
- Minimize our environmental liabilities in the acquisition and disposition of properties
- All of our Lucerne brand dairy milk products are rBST free.
For our shoppers whose lifestyle and or budgetary choices do not focus on non-GMO, we continue to provide an extensive selection of conventional private label and national brand products.
Although Albertsons Companies supports the voluntary labeling of products making non-GMO or GMO-free claims, we are also committed to continuing to provide our customers with choices across our many categories and brands.
At Albertsons Companies, we understand that consumers want products that they can feel good about. That’s why we’re committed to quality products, product safety, environmental stewardship and sound chemical management, including limiting the use of certain ingredients of consumer concern. We strive for greater transparency and work with our supplier community to maintain and continually improve brand-specific guidelines for our products. Examples include the following:
- Our O Organics™ products are United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified organic (95%+ organic ingredients), and must meet USDA’s standards to receive the certified organic seal. By definition, USDA organic products are free of synthetic additives like pesticides, fertilizers, and dyes, and must not be processed using industrial solvents. They are also non-GMO.
- As with all our products, we require our suppliers to comply with legal and regulatory guidelines. For our Open Nature™ line of products, we also maintain a Restricted Substances List that includes more than 100 ingredients of consumer concern, including parabens, artificial colors and flavors, certain preservatives and certain packaging
- Our OWN Brands Safer Choice-certified products must adhere to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Safer Chemical Ingredients List. This list has been evaluated by the EPA and determined to be safer than traditional ingredients. We have twice received the EPA’s Safer Choice Partner of the Year Award which recognizes our commitment to increasing awareness of the Safer Choice Program.
- All OWN Brand baby products are paraben, phthalate and triclosan free. Our infant formulas will also be third party certified as non-GMO in early 2018. In addition to the above, as the result of a multi-year BPA initiative, more than 300 OWN Brands canned goods are now packaged in non-BPA lined cans. This represents more than 80% of our OWN Brands canned offerings. The process of transitioning to non-BPA lined cans will continue until the conversion reaches 100%. In a move toward greater transparency, by the end of 2018, converted cans will be identifiable by “BPA Free” and “Non-BPA Lining” disclosure logos. As advancements are made in the scientific community, we will continue to modify our policy as needed. Consistent with this policy, we have developed position statements that provide additional information as it relates to BPA and GMOs.