PCC challenges natural food industry:

This article was originally published in March 2008

“The failure of our regulatory agencies to mandate full disclosure of food ingredients makes it incumbent on leaders in the natural foods industry to step forward and provide what our consumers want.” — Tracy Wolpert, CEO

(March 2008) — For many years, PCC has advocated for the right of consumers to know where their food comes from and what it contains. Last month PCC took another step toward giving shoppers the information they want and deserve.

In two letters sent to suppliers, PCC made clear that full disclosure of product ingredients is a standard suppliers are expected to incorporate into their operations and that PCC is requiring written verification that products sold to PCC are free of ingredients from cloned animals or their offspring.

Through these letters, PCC has raised the bar for food safety standards and has invited the natural food industry to respond to consumer interests where regulatory authorities have not. For example:

  • Food manufacturers are not required to disclose all ingredients used in their products, and may reformulate them without advising retailers or consumers.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled that products from cloned animals or their offspring are safe for human consumption. PCC contests this ruling as the FDA failed to address several controversial animal cloning issues.
  • Mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) of products specified by the 2002 Farm Bill has yet to be implemented. PCC implemented COOL voluntarily last year.

Reaction to both letters from shoppers and the media has echoed the very positive responses to other recent examples of PCC leadership: banning artificial trans-fats and high fructose corn syrup from all products, as well as the artificial growth hormone rBGH from fresh dairy products; eliminating plastic shopping bags; and being the first retailer to endorse the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Suppliers are applauding PCC’s initiative, even though for some it will be a challenge to identify and document all product ingredients and sources. But doing so is possible.

As PCC’s grocery merchandiser Stephanie Steiner notes, “Our shoppers trust PCC to provide the highest quality and safest food available, and that trust warrants requiring our suppliers to be as committed to a higher level of food ingredients standards as we are.”

Also in this issue

Your co-op, March 2008

Talk to the board, Notice of annual PCC membership meeting, 2008 board election, and more

Letters to the editor, March 2008

Fan letters; Agriculture in a changing climate; Organic bacon, organic salami; and more