The Kroger Co., headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, is the largest grocery store chain in the country, with over 3,500 stores and 2011 U.S. retail sales of $85,491,000—the 2nd highest, nationally.[1] Kroger operates a number of retail food and drug stores, multi-department stores, jewelry stores, and convenience stores including but not limited to brands like Ralph’s, King Soopers, City Market, Dillons, Gerbes, Owen’s, Smith’s, QFC’s, Fry’s, Food 4 Less, Baker’s, Jay C, Hilander, Pay Less, Scott’s, Foods Co, Fred Meyer, and Quik Shop.

With great market power comes great responsibility.

Many consumer products contain chemicals that have been linked with chronic diseases and health conditions, including cancer, reduced fertility, learning and developmental disabilities, behavioral problems, obesity, and diabetes. For example, exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), parabens, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances in cosmetics, personal care products, cleaners, and vinyl products have raised concerns from scientists about hormone disruption and asthma.[2]

We applaud Kroger’s leadership in eliminating BPA from infant and toddler products and cash register receipts, and the company’s commitment to developing BPA-free linings for canned goods in corporate-brand items. Efforts like this to reduce the environmental and public health threats posed by certain toxic chemicals are so important—yet there is still much more to do!

We are calling on Kroger to work with their suppliers to reduce, eliminate, or safely substitute the Hazardous 100+ chemicals.


What is Kroger doing to get tough on toxics?

Internal policy on chemicals?

Kroger has a restricted substance list for its private label Simple Truth products and for other products in its Nature’s Market department. Kroger prohibits 101 artificial preservatives and ingredients in its food products and packaging for those products.[3]

Several of the restricted chemicals are on the Hazardous 100+ List of Chemicals of High Concern, including parabens, methylene chloride, BHA and propylene oxide.

Except for a policy on BPA (see below), in its latest sustainability report (2012) Kroger has no explicit chemicals policy for all of its products or a plan to restrict chemicals of high concern in other products they sell. [4]

Shareholders ask for product safety policy, Kroger waits for regulation

In 2008, a substantial minority (38%) of Kroger’s voting shareholders supported a resolution to request a report on the company’s chemical policies and decisions around product safety. The Board of Directors opposed the resolution, saying: “these matters are most appropriately addressed by informed legislators and regulators.”[5]

Action to eliminate BPA

“Kroger’s first priority was to notify suppliers that we would no longer accept BPA in products commonly used by infants and toddlers, such as trainer cups, pacifiers, and utensils. These products are now BPA-free.”[6]

Since 2011, they also eliminated BPA from their receipts.[7]

Kroger began a process to remove BPA from the can linings of its Corporate Brand products but did not specify a timetable.[8]

Ranking by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

“Getting Started” (3 out of 10 kisses)[9]

Sources:

[1] National Retailers Federation, 2012. “2012 Top 100 Retailers.”


[2] Robin E. Dodson et al., 2012. “Hormone Disruptors and Asthma-Associated Chemicals in Consumer ProductsEnviron Health Perspectives


[3] Kroger, 2013. “Simple Truth.”


[4] Kroger, 2012. “2012 Sustainability Report.”


[5] Investor Environmental Health Network, 2008. “Substantial 38.3% Support for Kroger Chemicals Resolution.”


[6] Kroger, 2012. “2012 Sustainability Report.”