With many shoppers now more hesitant than ever about entering retail locations they deem “unclean” or "unsafe," six major independent food retailers can now visibly prove that they meet high safety standards. Ingles Markets Inc., Brookshire’s Food & Pharmacy, Cub Foods, Coborn’s, Bristol Farms and Lazy Acres Natural Market have all received Ecolab Inc.’s Science Certified seal.
Ecolab is considered a global leader in water, food safety and infection prevention solutions and services. Its Science Certified program, which combines advanced chemistries with public health and food safety training and periodic auditing, is helping retailers achieve a higher level of cleanliness to address the new health and safety challenges and consumer expectations driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and other emerging pathogens.
In fact, Ecolab’s proprietary research, conducted May 2020, revealed that 72% of frequent grocery shoppers feel “very safe” or “extremely safe” knowing hospital disinfectants are being used in stores. The research also found that consumers feel safer knowing that cleaning and disinfecting practices are verified by an external independent auditor with cleaning expertise. Further, according to the company’s January 2021 research, even after a vaccine is distributed, 95% of consumers surveyed want to see as much or more cleaning and sanitation practices at the places they eat, stay and shop.
The key elements of the Ecolab Science Certified program provide rigor and support consumer confidence:
- Create clean through hospital disinfectants and food-contact sanitizers approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use against the COVID-19 virus and other emerging pathogens, and elevated hygiene standards and protocols informed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
- Check clean through detailed public health and food safety training and periodic auditing by highly trained Ecolab specialists focused on public health and food safety to determine whether program elements are being followed.
- See and believe clean through front-of-house cleaning and disinfecting procedures and the Ecolab Science Certified seal, a visible sign of commitment that a location is advancing cleaner, safer practices.
By passing the independent audit performed by Ecolab and demonstrating their commitment to the Ecolab Science Certified program, these food retailers can display the official Ecolab Science Certified seal at more than 475 participating grocery store locations:
- Ingles, an Ashville, North Carolina-based grocer with 197 stores in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
- Brookshire’s, a regional family-owned grocery based in Tyler, Texas, with more than 180 stores operating in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.
- Cub, a Midwestern grocer based in Stillwater, Minnesota, with 79 locations in Minnesota and Illinois.
- Coborn’s, an employee-owned Midwestern grocery store chain based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, with more than 60 locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.
- Bristol Farms, a Southern California gourmet grocer based in Carson, California, with 14 locations from Santa Barbara to Palm Desert.
- Lazy Acres Natural Market, an upscale food retailer based in Southern California, with five locations from its hometown of Santa Barbara to San Diego. Lazy Acres is a sister banner of Bristol Farms, with both owned by Good Foods Holdings Inc.
These regional partners join other nationwide food retail brands, as well as many restaurants and hotels across the country, in advancing cleaner, safer practices through the Ecolab Science Certified program.
“The safety of our customers and associates has been of paramount importance to Ingles since the outbreak of the pandemic last year,” said Ron Freeman, CFO of Ingles. “The Ecolab Science Certified program allows us to demonstrate our commitment to rigorous, science-based cleaning protocols, training and audits to our customers and associates. The program is an important part of our overall standards to help provide a safer and cleaner shopping experience and workplace by reducing the risk of exposure to germs, including the COVID-19 virus.”
“Through the Ecolab Science Certified program, we’re helping our customers recalibrate to meet higher standards throughout the industry,” said Adam Johnson, VP and general manager of Ecolab’s global food retail business. “We look forward to helping these leading food retailers build consumer confidence as they implement our comprehensive program.”
With annual sales of $13 billion and more than 45,000 associates, St. Paul, Minnesota-based Ecolab delivers comprehensive solutions, data-driven insights and personalized service to advance food safety, maintain clean and safe environments, optimize water and energy use, and improve operational efficiencies and sustainability for customers in the food, health care, hospitality and industrial markets in more than 170 countries around the world.