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Walmart’s ‘Scalable’ Approach to Food Safety

With 140 million shoppers passing through its U.S. stores weekly, ensuring a safe food supply is a huge undertaking for the discount retailer.
October 21, 2016

​BENTONVILLE, Ark. – How does a company with 140 million shoppers stopping by its U.S. stores each week keep its food products safe? That’s a question the Wall Street Journal posed recently to Walmart Vice President of Food Safety Frank Yiannas.

It all starts with a “very carefully thought-out food-safety plan that centers around five core initiatives, he told the Wall Street Journal. “We work very hard to reduce risk very early in the food system. No. 2, you have to reduce … retail risk factors. … [No. 3], regulatory compliance. No. 4, manage emerging food issues. No. 5, driving global consistency, because consumers worldwide should have access to safe food.”

As Walmart has widened its sourcing for organic food and local producers, the company has more food suppliers and potential food safety issues. “What we’ve adopted is a scalable food-safety approach,” Yiannas said. That means the company broke down the Global Food Safety Initiative benchmark standards to fit smaller and developing suppliers.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Walmart and its foundation will be pouring in $25 million over five years to fund food safety research in China. “By bringing together the best food safety thinkers from across the food ecosystem, from farmers to suppliers, retailers to policy regulators, we’ll accelerate food safety awareness and help make Chinese families safer and healthier,” said Doug McMillon, Walmart CEO.