To help ensure food safety, Heinz utilizes an online global database that is designed to allow us to control the specifications and suppliers of raw materials and ingredients that we use in our products. The database, which is continually updated and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, enables Heinz to maintain critical information on the qualifications and performance of suppliers. Our Global Quality Management System tracks food safety requirements, helps ensure that necessary records are maintained and enables us to monitor the quality and safety performance of factories and suppliers. Currently, we have approximately 6,200 suppliers that provide packaging and ingredients to Heinz, more than 70 Company-owned factories and 394 co-packers that our system monitors around the world.
Food safety is critically important to Heinz. We take comprehensive steps to help ensure that our food products and key crops are safe for consumers. For example, for our ketchup products Heinz is able to track where the tomato seed originates, what was used to help the plants grow, where the seed was planted and how, when and where the tomato was processed into a finished product and delivered to its final retail distribution.
Heinz monitors the safety of our tomatoes through audits of the agricultural practices implemented by farmers who are contracted to grow Heinz tomatoes, both domestically and internationally. Activities include:
- Collecting written field histories
- Recording GPS positions of fields
- Geotagging photos of fields, farmers, chemical packaging and application techniques
- Checking chemical and fertilizer application records for compliance with approved lists
- Sampling soil and water and testing for appropriate chemical and nutrient levels
- Documenting that any rectification measures are executed
- Submitting reports verifying compliance of established agricultural practices
The farmers and processors that are Heinz suppliers are expected to follow standard safety practices, including:
- Sanitizing incoming hybrid seed to protect against fungus and bacteria
- Following strict industry protocol on the use of approved pesticides for preventative spraying. In fact, our growers are limited to a select list of pesticides more restrictive than those approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Protecting crops from unsafe water supplies
- Maintaining records of varieties and seed lots, as well as keeping greenhouse and field records
- Transporting tomatoes from field to factory in clean, non-contaminated containers
Once food products arrive at our plants, Heinz takes extensive steps as part of our world-class food quality and safety systems. We undertake rigorous risk assessments in our processes to protect our products and our consumers against food-borne risks, such as foreign matter, presence of undisclosed/unlabeled allergens and microbial contamination. For instance, we have installed electronic bar code readers in many of our plants that will detect mislabeled products and x-ray equipment to detect the presence of foreign matter.
Heinz also is pleased to be recognized for our leadership in moving to alternative materials that are Bisphenol A (BPA) free. Heinz has been a leader in food safety ever since our founder started this company in 1869. Although scientific bodies worldwide have concluded that minute levels of BPA are safe, Heinz is proactively exploring alternatives to BPA in response to consumer opinion.
Although Heinz works intently to ensure that our food is safe, we recognize there are rare instances when problems can occur. If the safety of our consumers is at risk, we will not hesitate to conduct a product recall or withdrawal.
We implement these rigorous policies because consumer health and food safety are top priorities at Heinz.