Food Safety

Baskets of fresh fruit and vegetables fill a product department

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Walmart is committed to complying with food safety laws and regulations applicable to its global businesses and to providing access to safe, high quality foods. Our Global Food Safety Compliance team has food safety professionals in every international market where we operate. These associates work to harmonize food safety standards worldwide. Maintaining a progressive and effective food safety management system is a critical part of our continued success. The Compliance Food Safety team is responsible for overseeing a comprehensive Food Safety program including:

  • Food Safety Education & Training - At Walmart, we understand the importance of promoting food safety with our associates and providing them with the education and training necessary to serve our customers safely. To accomplish this task, Walmart provides a series of Computer Based Learning (CBL) modules, instructor-led training and on-the-job food safety education and training.
  • Food Handling Procedures - Walmart developed the Food Safety High Five to educate associates on the most important practices or behaviors an associate must follow to prevent food borne illness. The Food Safety High Five is based on the CDC’s most common contributing factors of food borne disease and the FDA’s retail risk factors. The concepts are communicated visually to facilitate understanding and have now been successfully used in over 20 countries.
  • Electronic Temperature Logs - Walmart’s Sustainable Paperless Auditing and Record Keeping (SPARK) system is a handheld tool designed to see that foods meet or exceed safety standards. Using Bluetooth communication, state-of-the-art temperature measuring devices and sophisticated software, SPARK enables Walmart associates to manage a variety of compliance and quality related tasks. For example, it sets up reminders and checklists so that associates can monitor the temperature of the cases within the deli department—keeping cold things cold and hot things hot.
  • Third Party Food Safety Audits - Walmart contracts with an independent third party company to conduct food safety audits in each of our retail outlets. The many thousands of retail food establishments we operate receive, on average, a monthly, independent, third party food safety audit. This frequency of inspection far exceeds industry standards.
  • Food Recalls & Withdrawals - Walmart maintains a system designed to swiftly execute product recalls and withdrawals. We are able to quickly notify our facilities when a recall or withdrawal is warranted so they can remove the product from their shelves. We also take steps to restrict our registers from scanning or processing recalled items.
  • Reducing Risk in the Supply Chain - Walmart was the first U.S. retailer to require all private brand suppliers and select categories of national brand suppliers to achieve certification to one of the Global Food Safety Initiatives (GFSI) internationally recognized food safety standards. Since instituting this requirement, more than 10,000 food facilities around the world providing products to Walmart have been certified to one of the GFSI food safety standards.

Impact Stories

New Era of Food Transparency Powered by BLOCKCHAIN

Often people talk about the “food chain,” but it’s not a linear chain at all. Today, the way we get our food from farm to table, the “food system,” is a complex network of many interdependent entities. Customers want to know more about the source of their food, but this complexity makes that difficult. Also, when there’s a food safety problem it can take weeks to identify the source of contaminated food. Watch this video to learn about how Walmart is utilizing blockchain technology to improve food traceability and give consumers more information about the products they buy.

Food Waste & Date Labels

Approximately a third of all food produced in the world each year goes to waste. This is bad for the people who grow and produce food, bad for customers, and bad for the planet.

Date labeling confusion is a major contributor to food waste. Because there hasn’t been a uniform standard for how food companies date their products, consumers might see “sell by,” “best by,” “use before,” or many other variations on their food. This issue has been top-of-mind in food safety at Walmart for a while, and so in 2014, we worked with the Institute of Food Technologists to call for a simpler, more uniform solution.

We then worked with our suppliers, customers, governments, and trade associations to create a voluntary standard for how to datemark foods when the date is simply required for quality reasons, not safety. The new standard—“best if used by”—rolled out in 2016.

How Walmart’s SPARK Keeps Your Food Fresh

When customers look at rotisserie chickens in a Walmart store deli, many are likely thinking about recipes and what to make for dinner. They’re probably not thinking about whether that chicken has been cooked and kept at an appropriate temperature, because they know they can trust Walmart to keep food safe. But while food safety in the U.S. today may seem like a given, there’s actually a lot that goes into making it a reality. Read More