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Maintaining our outstanding food safety record is a top priority. We provide comprehensive, ongoing training to our employees and our plants are certified for food safety standards by an internationally recognized third party. We know where every ingredient in every product originated and that it meets our high standards.

Training

Hormel Foods invests extensive time and resources developing comprehensive training programs for our employees. From the moment an employee is hired, he or she continues to receive ongoing, current and industry-specific food safety education relevant to everyday job responsibilities. This training includes Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Training, Better Process Control School, our own Quality Control University and additional job-specific training.

The company also provides training opportunities to key co-packers to ensure they are adhering to our strict safety standards. Additionally, a representative from the Hormel Foods research and development team serves on the Minnesota Governor’s Food Safety and Defense Task Force.

Read more about how we ensure food safety and quality in our 2017 Corporate Responsibility Report.

Product Safety Management

Objective oversight is an imperative process for Hormel Foods to ensure the highest food safety and quality standards in all areas of the company’s operations. This is done through an internationally recognized, third-party food safety management system, widely known as GFSI.

Hormel Foods had one of the first manufacturing facilities independently certified using GFSI-recognized food safety standards. Thirty-two of our sites (Hormel Foods and subsidiary locations) were certified by GFSI-recognized food safety management systems in 2016, which include the British Retail Consortium Global Standard for Food Safety and Safe Quality Food Institute. To receive this certification, these sites were audited against one or more food safety standards recognized by GFSI, which are overseen by accreditation and certification bodies.

Read more about how we ensure food safety and quality in our 2017 Corporate Responsibility Report.

Corporate Quality Assurance Management

Robust audits are conducted by experienced auditors who inspect every plant for HACCP, sanitation and quality.

In addition, all sites are subject to audits by credible outside agencies, whose auditors have completed certified trainings through various accreditation bodies. Accreditation sets certain certification requirements such as food safety management systems and HACCP.

Traceability

Our company has a meticulous traceability process in place. It goes from our ingredient suppliers to the production plant to the finished product and finally, to each customer. This intricate system relies on electronic systems and records to provide visibility into our supply chain. As an example, our detailed and thorough approach to traceability allows us to know the farm of origin for each hog that is processed daily at Hormel Foods plants throughout the country.

Quality control employees are trained to trace inputs. Each Hormel Foods manufacturing facility holds a quarterly unannounced test to assess “real-time” system product traceability capabilities. This process brings visibility into the system and allows us to make continual improvements to the system and overall process.

Labeling

Nutrition label panel accuracy is important to ensure our products are delivering the expected dietary needs of our consumers. We operate an ongoing internal nutrition label verification program to ensure all nutrition panel information is accurate. We also provide nutritional information on our product websites to give consumers easy access to this important product information.

All product labels are developed by our team of highly trained technical label experts. This team has decades of industry experience in label development in accordance with mandatory and voluntary labeling elements.

We manage our labeling and formulation controls through an integrated software system, which maintains profiles and specifications of all ingredients, as well as the associated suppliers. This system is designed to identify all allergens (e.g., milk, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish); sensitive ingredients (e.g., sulfate, MSG); country of origin; supplying plant location; date of purchase; nutrition information and other detailed specifications. All elements of this database are maintained through a working relationship with suppliers.

Packaging

Our packaging scientists determine the best packaging techniques for all of our products to ensure our food safety and quality standards. A variety of packaging materials and options are used, including modified atmosphere packaging (a USDA-approved process that doesn’t require chemical preservatives) and packaging designed for low-acid, shelf-stable foods.

As we prepare products to be sold, they undergo multiple stages, checks and balances. Our packaging scientists do a thorough review of products, taking into account the entire manufacturing process, as well as customer and consumer usage.

In addition, Hormel Foods is dedicated to developing the best packaging techniques for the environment. In an effort to prevent food waste, we have specifically designed and packaged a variety of products to limit the amount of wasted food, such as shelf-stable options and single-serving-size options. By 2020, we also hope to reduce our packaging by 25 million pounds to help limit landfill waste.

Conflict Minerals

None of our products contain conflict minerals. However, we have met with our key packaging suppliers, who are complying with the SEC Rule on Conflict Minerals, and have teams in place to continually review their due diligence processes.

Hormel Foods understands the issues associated with conflict minerals that originate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or an adjoining country. That’s another reason why we work with suppliers that share our values and support our Supplier Responsibility Principles. These principles outline our expectations for our suppliers within specific areas of corporate responsibility, such as human rights and safe work environment standards. More information about our Supplier Responsibility Principles and our corporate responsibility efforts can be found in our 2017 Corporate Responsibility Report.

Read more about food safety and quality in our 2017 Corporate Responsibility Report.

Heavy Metals

We are aware of the blog post the Environmental Defense Fund published regarding heavy metals in food products. Heavy metals are defined as naturally occurring elements with a specific gravity that is at least five times that of water. Examples include arsenic, cadmium, iron, lead, chromium, copper, zinc, nickel and mercury.

It is important to understand that all heavy metals can be found in the soil; therefore, anything that is grown in the ground (such as peanuts, carrots, onions and potatoes) could contain small amounts.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration monitors heavy metals in a variety of food products. Data from this testing in 2013 and 2014 that included products under our SKIPPY® and Justin’s® brands, indicate levels of heavy metals that are relatively low and not likely to cause a human health concern (i.e., our products contained between 40 and 140 parts per billion (ppb) of cadmium). It is important to put the units of measurement into proper perspective when interpreting these results. In doing so, consider that one part per billion is equivalent to one second out of nearly 32 years. Further, these products were well within all applicable legal limits for cadmium and other heavy metals.

While these concentrations may be incredibly small, we remain vigilant on this topic by requiring all of our peanut suppliers to perform tests to ensure heavy metal concentrations are within established health standards and legal limits. In addition, we are looking into methods for further reducing the heavy metal content of our products.

A 2017 research study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Columbia State University found that heavy metal concentrations in U.S. peanuts were far below the established health standards.1

  • For example, an adult woman would have to consume more than two pounds of peanuts per day to reach the cadmium limit, more than ten pounds daily to reach the arsenic limit, and more than sixteen pounds to reach the daily limit for lead.
  • The study concluded that heavy metal concentrations found in the U.S. peanut crop are low relative to health standards and are consistent across crop years.

For additional information about peanuts, please visit the American Peanut Council website.

1 Benjamin F. Blair and Marshall C. Lamb (2017) Evaluating Concentrations of Pesticides and Heavy Metals in the U.S. Peanut Crop in the Presence of Detection Limits. Peanut Science: July 2017, Vol. 44, No. 2, pp. 124-133.