Ahold Delhaize USA Announces New Sustainability Policies Bolstering GMO Product Labeling and Animal Welfare

QUINCY, Mass., July 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ahold Delhaize USA, the parent company of leading grocery brands Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Company, Hannaford and Stop & Shop, has announced 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,” said Kevin Holt, CEO, Ahold Delhaize USA. “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 are requiring all private brand products to have clear on-pack Bioengineered Food labeling, well ahead of the Federal Bioengineered labeling deadline of January 1, 2022.

All Ahold Delhaize USA companies support the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. The companies are also committed to monitoring science and assessing risk around 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 enhance the GMO policy.

For customers of its local brands that want to avoid GMOs, Ahold Delhaize USA brands offer Nature’s Promise products, which are USDA organic and do not have intentionally added GMOs. The local brands also offer products that are non-GMO certified by a third party. The local brands do not knowingly sell animal products derived from genetically modified protein sources, including salmon, and do not plan to carry these products in the future.

Animal Welfare
The companies of Ahold Delhaize USA recognize the importance of ensuring healthy farm animal welfare practices. Ahold Delhaize USA companies will not tolerate animal abuse and support the globally recognized “Five Freedoms” of animal welfare.

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 and disclose progress through an annual animal welfare assessment and provide adequate training in their native language to all individuals involved with the direct handling of animals throughout the supply chain.

The animal welfare policy also addresses the following key areas:

  • Animal testing: Ahold Delhaize USA companies do not support the testing of private brand food, pharmaceutical or cosmetic products and their ingredients on animals; nor do they ask suppliers of private brand products to conduct animal testing, unless there is a legal obligation.
  • Antimicrobials: Ahold Delhaize USA companies support the judicious use of antimicrobials on farm to help sick and injured farm animals with a veterinarian’s oversight. The local brands do not support the use of antimicrobials medically crucial to humans nor the prophylactic use of antimicrobials in animal farming.
  • Broiler Chickens: Ahold Delhaize USA companies recognize concerns related to growth size and rate and stocking density of chickens raised for meat production and are actively speaking with suppliers, stakeholders and animal welfare experts to develop a set of product standards related to breed, stocking density and enriched environments and examining science-based studies to make updates to the animal welfare policy.
  • Confined housing systems: Ahold Delhaize USA companies have committed to working with suppliers to reach a 100 percent cage-free shell egg assortment by 2025 or sooner. The companies understand there are several confinement concerns linked to gestation stalls for breeding pigs or sows, and the companies are asking pork suppliers to transition to group housing and eliminate the use of gestation stalls by 2025 or sooner.
  • Growth hormones: Ahold Delhaize USA companies sell only private brand milk products free of the artificial growth hormone rBST/rBGH. Additionally, the local brands offer Nature’s Promise free from meat that prohibits the use of hormones and growth stimulants​.
  • Pain management: Ahold Delhaize USA companies 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 have written policies detailing best practices for managing painful procedures to reduce suffering.

The animal welfare policy applies to all suppliers. Ahold Delhaize USA companies will begin working toward compliance with private brand suppliers and work with all suppliers to improve compliance throughout the total assortment of whole or single ingredient products by 2025. Ahold Delhaize USA companies will begin annual reporting on the areas covered by the animal welfare policy beginning in 2021.

The announcement of these policies builds on previously commitments regarding sustainable chemistry, climate change and artificial ingredients. Ahold Delhaize USA will continue to enhance sustainability commitments and policies over time that align with its philosophy of local impact, greater purpose.

The full policies can be found on each of Ahold Delhaize USA’s brands’ websites.

About Ahold Delhaize USA
Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, is the parent company for Ahold Delhaize's U.S. companies, including its local brands, Food Lion, Giant Food, The GIANT Company, Hannaford and Stop & Shop, as well as Retail Business Services, a U.S. support services company providing services to the brands, and Peapod Digital Labs, its eCommerce engine. When considered together, the local brands of Ahold Delhaize USA comprise the largest grocery retail group on the East Coast and the fourth largest grocery retail group in the nation, operating more than 2,000 stores and distribution centers across 23 states and serving millions of customers each week through a wide variety of store formats with thousands of food and non-food items.

Christy Phillips-Brown

Erin DeWaters