QUINCY, MASS. – Enhanced sustainability is the focus of the parent company for some of the East Coast’s most prominent grocery store chains. Ahold Delhaize USA announced a new policy specific to labeling for genetically modified organism (GMO) product labeling of its private brand products and will require suppliers of its meat and poultry products to utilize strict animal welfare standards and comply with specific livestock production practices.

Ahold’s portfolio of banners include Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Co., Hannaford and Stop & Shop, with a total of more than 2,000 stores and distribution centers in 23 states.

As part of the new GMO policy, applicable private brand products supplied to the stores are required to be clearly labeled to comply with the Federal Bioengineered food labeling regulations before the Jan. 1, 2022, deadline. 

“All Ahold Delhaize USA companies support the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard,” the company said, adding that its companies are committed to monitoring risks using science-based standards related to GMOs using guidance from the World Health Organization, the US Food and Drug Administration and the National Academy of Sciences.

The company’s enhanced animal welfare policy expectations include requiring suppliers of whole or single-ingredient beef products, whole pork products, whole or single-ingredient poultry products and other livestock-based whole or single-ingredient products to operate with established animal welfare policies, including annual assurance and progress reports and assessment reports related to training of employees required to work with live animals.

The new welfare policies apply to all suppliers and address specific production practices, including areas such as housing density, pain management, antimicrobial management, eliminating gestation crates, hormone use and growth rates,

“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,” the company said. “Ahold Delhaize USA companies will begin annual reporting on the areas covered by the animal welfare policy beginning in 2021.”

Kevin Holt, chief executive officer, added, “At Ahold Delhaize USA, we strive to have local impact with a greater purpose in all that we do. 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.”