For the past month, our hearts have gone out to the people of Japan as we’ve received ongoing news about how the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant disaster is affecting their country and how the crisis extends to the global community.We’ve been assessing food safety concerns carefully and wanted to take this opportunity to share how this disaster is and is not affecting products in our stores.First of all, we do not sell any meat, fresh seafood, any dairy products, or any produce that comes from Japan.Next, none of our 365 Everyday Value grocery items are made in Japan.Our stores stock a small percentage of products actually produced in Japan. Almost all of these are in the grocery department alongside Japanese-inspired foods like cooking sauces, sushi-style rice and seaweed. Some of these items may originate in Japan but others are produced domestically.We are working with our vendors who provide products from Japan to determine how they are responding to this crisis. We will provide regular updates as we learn more, but given the devastation of their country we know that this will take time. In the meantime our major grocery vendors as well as many of our in-store third-party sushi vendors are responding in several ways, and they individually have assured us of one or more of the following:
That their product comes from unaffected areas of Japan, far from the four prefectures that have been exposed to radiation near the nuclear plant;
That they have switched their product sourcing to unaffected areas of Japan or other countries;
That they are closely monitoring government reports and are relying on Japanese health officials and the FDA to prevent any contaminated food from entering the country without testing regimens;
That they are testing the products themselves, either before they leave Japan or immediately upon arrival in the U.S.;
That they have stopped sourcing products from Japan altogether; or
That the Japanese products they offer currently were shipped prior to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
We are also in close communication with our U.S. dairy vendors, including the small cooperatives of farmers who produce our private label milk, about products from the Western U.S. states. They are closely monitoring ongoing FDA and EPA tests from multiple sites. As of today, these tests have consistently shown that milk from California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona is safe.Our produce vendors on the West Coast of the U.S. are also watching test results closely, and many are currently harvesting products that are being grown in other regions.Each day we monitor reports from the FDA, EPA and other government health agencies for the latest information on their efforts in assessing the safety of products from Japan. Of course, we don’t have all the answers and we expect more information to continue to unfold. Check back and we’ll keep you updated as we learn new things. You can rest assured that we are actively engaged in assessing the safety of the products we provide.
And please know that we will continue to work with our Japanese vendor partners to support them through this difficult time. If you would like to help survivors of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami meet their immediate and longer-term needs, you can donate through our fundraising page on Mercy Corp. The Mercy Corp team has delivered emergency supplies — including large shelters, tents, kerosene space heaters, blankets, instant rice and fresh produce — to families evacuated from their homes in four tsunami-stricken cities in northeastern Japan. They’ve also launched Comfort for Kids, a program to help children recover from the emotional effects of a large-scale disaster. Additionally, they’re exploring the possibility of an economic recovery program to help families meet their needs while infusing much-needed cash into struggling local businesses.