Kroger honored for promoting food safety

CINCINNATI — The International Association for Food Protection is honoring Kroger with the 2012 Black Pearl Award for advancing food safety and quality.

The  (IAFP) names one company annually for its efforts to advance food safety and quality through consumer programs, employee relations, educational activities, adherence to standards, and support of the goals and objectives of the IAFP.

"Food safety is Kroger's top priority. We want to ensure our customers can count on wholesome, fresh, and safe food from farm to table. We are proud to receive this important recognition from the International Association of Food Protection," said David Dillon, Kroger's chairman and chief executive officer. "Kroger's focus on food safety is a natural extension of our "Customer 1st" strategy, which engages all of our employees – in every store, plant, distribution center and office – around one common purpose, to serve the customer first in every decision we make. While every Kroger associate plays an essential role in food safety and shares in this award, I'd like to thank our team of food safety experts for their leadership in the areas of risk prevention, continuous improvement, and safety innovation."

Kroger earned the reward for taking the following actions to ensure food safety and quality:

  • Conducts a bi-monthly food safety review audit of each store. These audits are conducted by third-party firms and augment inspections conducted by local health departments and company associates. In 2010, Kroger conducted 14,753 food safety reviews and followed up on results to resolve any issues that were identified.

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  • Providing customers with information to ensure safe food handling. We provide education around proper grilling and cooking temperatures, safe food handling tips, and general information about food safety at home.

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  • Kroger was one of the first retailers to implement a customer notification system for certain types of recalls. Using our customer loyalty database, we are able to notify customers through register receipt messages and automated phone calls about recalls of products they may have purchased. Kroger was also one of the first retailers to endorse the Rapid Recall Exchange, the food industry's only online recall notification system – and was the first national retail chain to encourage its suppliers to subscribe to this industry-leading program.

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  • Kroger manufactures almost half of the company's corporate brand items in its 39 food-processing plants and stocks about 11,000 of corporate brand items per supermarket. In 2010, every Kroger manufacturing plant received full Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certifications. These standards are best-in-class and require constant improvement in food safety as measured by certified third-party auditing companies. All of Kroger's private-label suppliers are required to have GFSI certification as well.

The Black Pearl Award will be presented at IAFP's Annual Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island in July.