food safety quality & regulatory compliance tools and processes

Target’s Product Development and Food Safety, Quality, and Regulatory (FSQR) teams are dedicated to delivering quality products and protecting our guests and Target Brands (Good & Gather, Archer Farms, Market Pantry and Simply Balanced). To deliver products that our guests love, seek, and enjoy more often, Target formed a team dedicated to elevating product quality and consistency for our guests. Target’s Quality Standards and Development (QSD) team partners closely with our Product Design, Packaging Engineering, Product Insights, and Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory teams to develop and advance best practices, and support quality products for our guests. Collectively, the teams have worked to develop and implement best practices in quality management such as: 

  • Creating brand quality and technical standards
  • Strengthening product specifications and requirements
  • Enhancing quality testing programs

Specifications and Standards

Once our Product Design team has identified a product design, we work closely with our vendors to ensure critical elements and quality standards are captured in our product specifications. A thorough specification is created for every Target-brand food item and we hold our vendors accountable in delivering against these specifications with every product shipped to our Stores.

Vendor Facility Approvals

Target’s Food Safety Quality and Regulatory team, located in the U.S. and Thailand, assesses our vendors’ capabilities to produce safe and high-quality products that are compliant with regulations and Target’s food safety and quality standards. Each year, the team assesses more than 800 vendor facilities that produce Target-branded foods.

Vendor Risk Management

The Food Safety Quality and Regulatory team at Target oversees our Vendor Risk Management function by leveraging a scientific, risk-based, preventive approach to assess vendors and ensure that appropriate food safety, quality and regulatory capabilities are in place before production.

All facilities that produce Target-branded foods are accountable to regulatory guidelines and Target food safety and quality standards, including but not limited to:

  • Global Food Safety Initiative certification, a comprehensive, globally-recognized food safety program, and standards used to evaluate a manufacturing facility’s programs and capabilities. Target has required this certification since 2009.
  • Preventative Food Safety Plan
  • Environmental Monitoring Program for Pathogen Control
  • Allergen Management Program
  • Product traceability (open date code/lot traceability programs)

Some products require additional oversight, such as those bearing specific claims (e.g., food safety, allergen-related claims) as well as those presenting greater food safety risk (e.g., produce, sushi, ground beef). In these circumstances, the team has defined requirements and takes steps needed to provide confidence in food safety and truthful labeling that our guests would expect from us.

Regulatory Compliance and Labeling

Target’s Compliance and Labeling function verifies labels provide accurate information that complies with regulatory requirements as well as Target’s standards for food safety and quality for our guests. We provide expert guidance to Target's business teams by:

  • Requiring vendors to confirm regulatory compliance of food packages and product descriptions used online
  • Monitoring, assessing potential business impact of regulatory and nutrition developments to provide actionable internal guidance
  • Requiring vendors to provide food product label information that meets federal and state labeling regulations
  • Providing guidance for the use of nutrition and health claims, such as "excellent source of fiber” or “heart healthy”

Ongoing Monitoring

After we begin selling new products, Target regularly monitors product safety and quality through third-party audits and onsite risk assessments at vendor facilities, production document reviews, and quality testing of products at Distribution Centers or Headquarters, and by listening and responding to guest feedback.

Looking ahead, our teams continue to collaborate with buying, sourcing and product development teams as well as industry and trade associations to proactively address upcoming industry and regulatory needs. They’ll also leverage advancements in food safety, quality, and health and wellness trends to maximize product offerings and value for our guests.

Product Investigations and Recalls

Food Recalls

In the event of a food recall, we take prompt action to alert our stores to remove recalled items from our shelves. Any recalled products are removed from digital channels to prevent purchase and locked across impacted stores at the cash register to ensure that they cannot be sold to guests.

We provide guests up-to-date recall information through in-store kiosks, on Target.com and on Target's Facebook page. Recall postings include direct links to agency websites such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for up-to-date and detailed information on the recalled item.

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