For immediate release: November 14, 2018

Grocery and food retailers in Canada lag behind those leading in U.S. on protecting customers from toxic chemicals

Loblaw scores highest in Canada, while Sobeys, Tim Hortons, Burger King and Popeye’s receive a failing grade

Toronto, Ont. – A report released today by the U.S.-based Mind the Store campaign in partnership with Environmental Defence reveals that Canadian grocery and food retailers need to step up their action on toxic chemicals in consumer products.

“It’s troubling to see Sobeys, a leading grocery retailer, and Restaurants Brands International, owner of Tim Hortons and Burger King, receiving an F grade for failing to reduce their customer’s exposures to toxics” says Muhannad Malas, Toxics program manager with Environmental Defence. “We are expecting immediate action by these companies to improve their policies around the use of toxic chemicals like phthalates, grease-proofing PFAS and hormone-disrupting bisphenols in food packaging and in receipts.”

The third annual Who’s Minding the Store? A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals evaluated and graded the chemical policies and practices of 40 of the largest North American retailers, including grocery and fast food chains.

Nearly half of the retailers evaluated for Who’s Minding the Store? received an F grade for failing to develop policies or publicly report progress to assess, reduce or eliminate toxic chemicals in the products or packaging they sell.

Loblaw came out ahead of all Canadian retailers largely due to the company’s leadership in removing toxic phthalates and antibacterial triclosan from private-label personal care and cleaning products. But the report also shows that Loblaw can take additional steps to improve its score, including removing BPA and BPS from receipts and phthalates and PFAS from food packaging materials.

“Companies can prevent harm and protect public health by taking common sense steps to phase out toxic chemicals in everyday products,” says Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign Director for Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and report co-author. “Retailers have an important role to play – they have both the power and the moral responsibility to eliminate and safely replace toxic chemicals to mind the store. They should stop letting chemical corporations put public health at risk.”

To improve their scores, the report recommends that companies with a failing grade develop a publicly available chemicals policy that restricts chemicals of concern and set timelines to replacing harmful chemicals with safer ones. Amazon is among the “most improved” after announcing sweeping chemical safety policies in October, that helped increase its score to a C after receiving a failing grade in 2016.

“Taking action on toxics is not only good for people’s health and the environment, it is also good for business,” says Malas. “Canadian retailers like Walmart Canada and Sobeys just need to look south of the border at companies like Apple, Target and Walmart U.S. to see that having strong chemical policies has become a pillar of modern corporate social responsibility.”

Over the past year, several retailers included in the report as well as other retailers such as Walmart Canada, Canadian Tire and Home Hardware took quick steps to phase out paint strippers linked to consumer and work deaths from their stores in response to consumer demand for safer paint strippers. We hope that Canadian retailers will build on these positive actions by addressing more chemicals of concern in other consumer products.

To see the Canadian media backgrounder, visit https://goo.gl/kQ82Yg. For the full report, visit RetailerReportCard.com.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Sarah Jamal, Environmental Defence, sjamal@environmentaldefence.ca, 416-323-9521 ext. 251