Best Practices for Safer Food Additives

 Behind the label: A Blueprint for Safer Food Additives in the Marketplace

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the substances used to flavor, color, preserve, and package their food. Too often harmful substances like BPA, ortho-phthalates, and artificial colors persist in the market – and environment – for years before action is taken. We need a new marketplace paradigm. We need companies, from chemical makers to consumer product manufacturers to retailers, to be leaders in fostering the healthy, sustainable world we all deserve.

What does leadership look like?

In working with companies along the consumer product supply chain, EDF has developed a basic blueprint – defined by five key pillars of leadership – for advancing safer chemicals in the marketplace.

food-additives-pillars

Each pillar adds value to business:

  • Institutional Commitment: Goals are aligned and embedded, employees are empowered, and a clear market signal is sent to suppliers.
  • Supply Chain Transparency: Provides clarity for informed decision-making and risk mitigation as well as timely response to questions and concerns.
  • Informed Consumers: Creates consumer trust and brand loyalty.
  • Product Design: Establishes a framework for success, accountability, and higher quality products.
  • Public Commitment: Creates stakeholder buy-in, public respect, and opens up partnership opportunities.

 Taking a deeper dive into each leadership pillar:

  1. Institutional Commitment– As with any business initiative, successful outcomes require strong commitment and support from leaders across the organization – from the C-suite to middle management. Solid commitment from company executives and management in key business divisions is the only way to ensure that staff will be afforded the steady support and resources they need to be successful. In a committed company, action ripples throughout the organization; company executives set top-level goals that are reinforced by middle management in a way that empowers employees in every business function to make the transformation successful through their own daily operations. It’s about true integration of the new safer chemistry philosophy into everyday business.
  • Value to Business: Goals are aligned and embedded, employees are empowered, a clear market signal is sent to suppliers

Learn More – How Institutional Commitment Translates to Safer Products


Commitment alone doesn’t equate to industry leadership. Leadership requires action. At EDF, we have seen that establishing progressive action on the next three leadership pillars sets the foundation for industry leadership on safer chemicals.

  1. Supply Chain Transparency– To most effectively introduce safer products, a manufacturer or retailer needs to understand how a product is created. A product manufacturer needs to have a clear picture of the ingredients used to make its products, just as a retailer needs to have transparency into the ingredients and known contaminants in the products it sells. This information is needed for well-informed decision-making and risk mitigation and enables better monitoring of progress as well as more timely response to queries.
  • Value to Business: Provides clarity for informed decision-making and risk mitigation

Learn More – Industry Leadership for Safer Chemicals through Supply Chain Transparency


  1. Informed Consumers– Sharing ingredient and contaminant information with consumers is key to business leadership on food additives. It can build consumer confidence, trust, loyalty – and market advantage. It shows that a company embraces and executes on the philosophy that consumers have the right to know what is in the products they buy. Additionally, consumer transparency fosters accountability within the company to make informed decisions about the ingredients and products they buy, sell and design to meet customer demands for increased product safety and sustainability. It also provides a means for public recognition of safer food additive leadership.
  • Value to Business:Creates consumer trust and brand loyalty

Learn More – Consumers Deserve To Know What's In Their Products


  1. Product Design– To achieve industry leadership, a company must create and implement a robust process for safer Product Design. This process is the road map for bringing safer chemicals into products or stores and phasing out hazardous chemicals. A strong product design process builds upon the product improvement goals set in a company's Institutional Commitment for safer chemicals. Specific, measurable objectives are set, as well as a corresponding methodology that helps the company judge what chemicals should and should not be included in future products in order to meet the outlined objectives. An effective Product Design also delineates the key roles for internal staff and external stakeholders, specifies resources necessary for execution and establishes a timeline for tracking progress.
  • Value to Business: Establishes a framework for success, accountability, and higher quality products

  1. Public Commitment– Results matter, and effective communication of a company's policy, timelines and progress towards goals can garner valuable support from the general public. Telling the story about one’s journey – and the pitfalls along the way – can be just as powerful as sharing success stories. Going public will reinforce internal alignment on the goals and spur the innovation of safer food additives needed to create higher quality products. Going public can also lead to useful partnerships or engagements with other organizations, which in turn can provide companies with additional expertise, best practices, and recognition.
  • Value to Business: Creates stakeholder buy-in, public respect, and opens up partnership opportunities

Learn More – Public Commitment: Setting Goals, Reporting Results, Building Trust


Behind the Label: The Blueprint for Safer Chemicals in the Marketplace

There is no right way to start building these pillars of leadership.  Achieving industry leadership on safer chemicals is an iterative process.  Insights gained while tackling one pillar can inform and improve action on another. The companies that adopt our five pillars of leadership for safer chemicals in the marketplace will revolutionize how business is done.  And in doing so, they will remain relevant, resilient, and ultimately ahead of the competition.

Grounded in our years of experience working with business, EDF provides guidance on strategies, tools, employee engagement, and business procedures that can help every company establish or build upon these pillars to implement best-in-class safer chemicals policies and practices.

Back to Behind the Label