Ahold Delhaize USA, the parent company of Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Co., Hannaford, and Stop & Shop, has adopted new sustainability policies for genetically modified food (GMOs) and farm animal welfare.
“At Ahold Delhaize USA, we strive to have local impact with a greater purpose in all that we do,” noted Ahold Delhaize USA CEO Kevin Holt. “Each of our local brands recognizes the great responsibility they have to advance sustainability initiatives in their local communities and nourish customers in a way that is transparent and sustainable. In addition, our East Coast presence enables our brands to make a real and positive impact in the communities they serve. The addition of these policies furthers the brands’ commitments to provide nutritious, transparent products that meet customers’ preferences and lifestyles.”
Under the new GMO policy, Ahold Delhaize USA companies require all private-brand products to have clear on-pack Bioengineered Food labels, well ahead of the Federal Bioengineered labeling deadline of Jan. 1, 2022.
All Ahold Delhaize USA companies support the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. The companies have also committed to monitoring science and assessing risk of GMOs, and will look to organizations like the World Health Organization, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to continue to develop the GMO policy.
For shoppers who wish to avoid GMOs, Ahold Delhaize USA’s banners offer Nature’s Promise products, which are USDA organic and contain no intentionally added GMOs. The banners also sell products that are non-GMO certified by a third party. They don’t knowingly stock animal products derived from genetically modified protein sources, including salmon, and don’t plan to carry such products in the future.
Under the new farm animal welfare policy, Ahold Delhaize USA companies expect suppliers of whole or single-ingredient cattle products, whole pork products, whole or single-ingredient poultry products, and other whole or single-ingredient products derived from farm animals to have an established, publicly facing animal welfare policy; report annually that they meet animal welfare-acceptable levels of assurance; reveal progress through an annual animal welfare assessment; and provide sufficient training in their native language to all those who directly handle animals throughout the supply chain.
The animal welfare policy additionally addresses these key areas:
- Animal testing: Ahold Delhaize USA companies don’t support the testing of private-brand food, pharmaceutical or cosmetic products and their ingredients on animals; nor do they ask private-brand product supplier to conduct animal testing, unless there is a legal obligation.
- Antimicrobials: Ahold Delhaize USA companies support the judicious use of antimicrobials on farms to help sick and injured farm animals with a veterinarian’s oversight, but don’t support the use of antimicrobials medically crucial to humans, nor the prophylactic use of antimicrobials in animal farming.
- Broiler Chickens: The companies are actively working with suppliers, stakeholders and animal welfare experts to devise product standards related to breed, stocking density and enriched environments, and consulting science-based studies to make updates in this area.
- Confined housing systems: The banners have committed to working with suppliers to achieve a 100% cage-free shell egg offering by 2025 or earlier. They’re also requesting pork suppliers to transition to group housing and stop the use of gestation stalls by 2025 or sooner.
- Growth hormones: The companies sell only private-brand milk products free of the artificial growth hormone rBST/rBGH, as well as offering Nature’s Promise free-from meat that prohibits the use of hormones and growth stimulants.
- Pain management: The banners expect suppliers of fresh and frozen products derived from whole or single-ingredient cattle, pork, poultry, and other whole or single-ingredient products derived from farm animals to produce written policies detailing best practices for managing painful procedures to reduce suffering.
The animal welfare policy is applicable to all suppliers. Ahold Delhaize USA banners will start working toward compliance with private-brand suppliers and work with all suppliers to boost compliance throughout the total assortment of whole or single-ingredient products by 2025. Annual reporting on the areas covered by the animal welfare policy will begin next year.
These new policies build on previous commitments regarding sustainable chemistry, climate change and artificial ingredients. The grocer noted that it would continue to improve sustainability commitments and policies over time to better align them with its philosophy of "local impact, greater purpose."
The full policies are available on each Ahold Delhaize USA’s banner’s websites.
Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, is the parent company for Ahold Delhaize’s U.S. companies, consisting of Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Co., Hannaford, and Stop & Shop, as well as e-grocer Peapod; Retail Business Services, a U.S. support services company providing services to the brands; and Peapod Digital Labs, its ecommerce engine. Operating more than 2,000 stores across 23 states, Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 11 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in the United States.