Albertsons criticized for selling products that include harmful chemicals

Environmental health groups are calling on Boise-based Albertsons to stop carrying items that contain a potentially harmful chemical.

The groups tested 10 items for signs of PFAS, which are used to make things resistant to grease or water. Waterproof fabrics and wax-coated paper can contain PFAS, for example. The groups found signs of these chemicals in cake plates, dental floss, bags of organic microwave popcorn and a take-out container from Albertsons and Safeway stores.

The groups Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and Toxic-Free Future, in conjunction with Conservation Voters for Idaho and Clean Water Action CA, gathered and tested the items for high levels of fluorine, a sign of treatment with PFAS.

Some PFAS may contribute to health problems such as raised cholesterol, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Studies indicate that PFOA and PFOS (types of PFAS) can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals,” the EPA says. “Both chemicals have caused tumors in animal studies.”

Safer Chemicals, one of the advocacy groups leading the study, told the Statesman that the sample size of just 10 items was enough to indicate a problem.

“We examined private label products to understand if the company was taking steps to ensure that these extremely persistent toxic chemicals are not in their private brand supply chains,” the group said. “By releasing this information publicly, we hope to encourage Albertsons to take a leadership position on this critical environmental and public health issue.”

Albertsons banners nationwide map 4-9-19.JPG
Albertsons Cos. has more than 2,300 stores under 21 banners: Albertsons, Albertsons Market, Safeway, Jewel-Osco, Vons, Lucky, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs, Sav-On, Acme, Shaw’s, Star Market, United Supermarkets, United Express, Market Street, Amigos, Haggen, Andronico’s Community Markets and Pak ‘n Save Foods.

The study followed a round of testing in 2018 that included Albertsons and a few other grocery chains. After those test results came out, Whole Foods Market pulled items that were highlighted in the report, according to Bloomberg News.

Albertsons was notified of the findings, according to spokespeople for the grocer and the environmental health advocacy groups.

“Our commitment to providing safe packaging to our customers is unwavering, and our products meet FDA guidance for allowable food safety standards,” Albertsons spokeswoman Christine Wilcox said in an email to the Statesman.

She added that Albertsons works with its suppliers and food safety staff “to ensure that our products are safe and meet all federal health and safety regulations.” Albertsons also works with outside organizations such as the Biodegradable Products Institute to make sure its packaging exceeds the market standard, she said.

“Like many other supermarket companies and restaurants, we are currently exploring alternatives for the packaging items that may have the presence of PFAS,” Wilcox said.