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Hannaford will move to restrict ‘chemicals of concern’ in products, packaging

The action comes nearly 2 years after a Portland-based environmental health group gave the supermarket chain an ‘F’ for failing to announce policies to ensure the chemical safety of its products.

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Hannaford Supermarkets parent company Ahold Delhaize USA said it will implement new restrictions on the use of certain chemicals in products and packaging that some environmental health groups say are bad for consumers.

The move comes nearly two years after the Portland-based Environmental Health Strategy Center said Hannaford was among nine retailers that received “F” grades for failing to publicly announce policies to ensure the chemical safety of their products and supply chain.

Ahold Delhaize said Thursday in a news release that its U.S. subsidiaries will restrict certain chemicals from products and packaging, work with suppliers to ensure products meet high standards for ingredients beyond what’s required by law, and collaborate with suppliers to address the root causes of contaminants. The company operates the regional supermarket chains Food Lion, Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s, Hannaford, Peapod and Stop & Shop, along with its U.S. services company, Retail Business Services, which develops store-brand products for each of the supermarket chains.

“The great local brands of Ahold Delhaize USA are known for their close local and personal connections with customers and communities,” said Brittni Furrow, the company’s vice president of sustainable retailing and healthy living, in a statement. “Consumers indicate they want more transparent products for their families, made with ingredients they can feel good about. We’re pleased to launch this new commitment, which will bring more sustainable options, free from unwanted ingredients, to neighborhood grocery stores.”

The new policy will restrict the use of “chemicals of concern,” including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. The chemicals are often found in packaging, plastic products and nonstick coatings.

Many environmental health experts say there is evidence the chemicals can contribute to a variety of chronic health problems, although they are still allowed under U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules, and studies of their long-term effects on humans are ongoing.

The Ahold Delhaize announcement is a win for the Environmental Health Strategy Center, which has put pressure on businesses in Maine and across the U.S. to eliminate the use of such chemicals in their products and packaging.

“We applaud and congratulate Hannaford’s parent company for exhibiting outstanding market leadership with this new policy that will help protect its customers from toxic chemicals,” the center’s executive director, Mike Belliveau, said in a statement. “PFAS, phthalates and BPA are all dangerous chemicals that interfere with the way our hormones work, and they have been linked to a host of illnesses and health problems. By working to get these chemicals off store shelves, this policy is an important first step to protect many children and families from harm.”

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