With public awareness of cleanliness higher than ever since the onset of COVID-19, Giant Eagle has brought science into the equation to ensure safe shopping and working environments for customers and employees.
Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle said it has joined the Ecolab Science Certified program, which establishes safe cleaning practices across the business by combining hospital disinfectants and other sanitizers with public health and food safety training and procedures as well as periodic auditing. The regional grocer last week announced that it earned the official Ecolab Science Certified seal after passing an independent audit performed by St. Paul, Minn.-based Ecolab.
The science-based program is designed to help food retailers achieve a higher level of cleanliness “from the front of the house to the back of the house” and reflects insights from proprietary Ecolab consumer research, according to Giant Eagle. For example, 72% of frequent grocery shoppers polled said they feel “very safe” or “extremely safe” knowing that hospital disinfectants are being used. And even with most Americans now receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, Ecolab’s research found that 95% of consumers want to see as much or more cleaning and sanitization practices at everyday places like grocery stores, restaurants and hotels.
“Creating a safe and comfortable environment for team members and guests has always been a top priority at Giant Eagle and has enabled us to meaningfully help our communities navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic the past two years,” Vic Vercammen, vice president of risk and chief compliance officer at Giant Eagle, said in a statement. “We prioritize identifying various industry-leading partners to ensure we maintain the highest health and safety standards and view our achieving the Ecolab Science Certified program as evidence that we are meeting our responsibility to all those we serve.”
Participants in the Ecolab Science Certified program use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved hospital disinfectants and food contact sanitizers for cleaning against the COVID-19 virus and other emerging pathogens and employ elevated hygiene standards and protocols in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, Giant Eagle reported. Other elements of the program include detailed public health and food safety training and audits by Ecolab specialists to ensure Science Certified measures are being followed, and enabling customers to “see and believe” the advanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures via display of the Ecolab Science Certified seal.
“Through the Ecolab Science Certified program, we’re helping leading foodservice and hospitality leaders like Giant Eagle meet new consumer expectations and advance cleaner, safer practices,” commented Adam Johnson, vice president and general manager for Ecolab’s food retail business. “We look forward to working with Giant Eagle to build consumer confidence as they put our scientific expertise to work.”
Overall, Giant Eagle operates approximately 475 food and convenience stores, including over 200 supermarkets, across western Pennsylvania, north central Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana. Other grocery retailers participating in the Ecolab Science Certified program include Ingles Markets, Brookshire’s Food & Pharmacy, Cub Foods, Coborn’s, Bristol Farms and Lazy Acres. In February, the National Grocers Association, the trade group for the independent supermarket sector, named Ecolab as its food safety partner.