CINCINNATI — The Kroger Co. has been named the 2012 recipient of the Black Pearl Award for advancing food safety and quality, given by the International Association for Food Protection.
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. The Black Pearl Award will be presented at IAFP's annual meeting in Providence, R.I., in July.
"Food safety is Kroger's top priority,” said David B. Dillon, Kroger's chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement. “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.
“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," he added.
Kroger develops and maintains the following programs to ensure food safety and quality.
Food Safety Review Audits: Kroger conducts a bimonthly 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.
Customer Education: Kroger works to equip customers with information to ensure safe food handling. The company provides education around proper grilling and cooking temperatures, safe food handling tips, and general information about food safety at home.
Recall Notification System: Kroger was one of the first retailers to implement a customer notification system for certain types of recalls. Using its customer loyalty database, the company is 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 online recall notification system — and was the first national retail chain to encourage its suppliers to subscribe to this program.
GFSI Audits: 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.