Reviewing PCC’s quality standards
By Aimee Simpson
This article was originally published in March 2022
We know that many of you rely on PCC to research, evaluate and apply precautionary best practices concerning the health, environmental and social impacts of our products. The Quality Standards Committee (QSC) is one of the behind-the-scenes but critical pieces of our work to ensure socially and environmentally responsible food nourishes the communities we serve.
Here’s a quick overview, with more information on our standards online here:
What is the QSC?
The QSC is PCC’s internal, cross-departmental forum to discuss social and sustainability concerns surrounding products and the supply chain. Members of the committee meet monthly, include office leadership and staff, and represent the Merchandising, Operations, Communications, and Social and Environmental Responsibility teams.
What does the QSC do?
The QSC’s goal is to oversee, improve and develop co-op standards to address key product sustainability and social concerns identified by staff research, food and agriculture community allies, store staff, and, of course, our members and shoppers. The QSC also helps to review food and health and body care ingredients to determine acceptability.
What were some key QSC accomplishments for 2021?
Codified Standards—Finalized updated PCC product standards for Genetically Engineered (GE) Labeling, Laying Hens & Whole Eggs, Palm Oil, Seafood, Beer & Wine, Compost & Soil Amendments, Plants & Cut Flowers, Food Ingredients, Health & Body Care Standards (Personal Care Products/Supplements & Medicines).
Ingredients—Reviewed more than a dozen new ingredients. Agreed to prohibit algal flour, Polylysine, Transglutaminase, Sodium ferrocyanide, ammonium phosphates and microcrystalline cellulose.
Heavy Metals in Baby Food—Removed all rice-based baby foods identified as problematic in Congressional report & elevated/expanded brands with better testing/sourcing protocol.
Bottled Water Ban Expansion—Removed all still water in plastic bottles under 1 gallon.
White Sage & Sweetgrass—Removed all white sage and sweetgrass bundles and white sage essential oil from our shelves.
Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI)—Continued to discuss topics related to JEDI and how we can better integrate that work into our standards and the products on our shelves.
Reusables in Stores—Supported operations for early implementation of new Washington Food Code standards allowing reusable containers (a 2019-2020 advocacy priority and effort for PCC).
What does the QSC hope to accomplish for 2022?
We are excited about finishing a standards upgrade project (check pccmarkets.com for periodic standards updates), a new household products standard, and continuing to work with our community allies on potential climate impact assessments and fostering JEDI alignment throughout our supply chain. We try to keep the docket somewhat flexible, though, to allow for the surprises and new issues that always arise.
Aimee Simpson, J.D., is PCC’s director of advocacy & product sustainability.