Product quality, safety and development
The health and safety of our customers is paramount and ensuring quality, safe and effective products is our top priority. In an effort to address increased environmental concerns regarding PVCs in packaging, we established a baseline, identified potential opportunities and established a target of a 20% reduction in the use of PVCs in our private label product packaging by the end of 2013. Further progress has been made towards the achievement of this target with the continued migration of certain of our Life Brand® products to non-PVC packaging. To date, we have reduced our PVC packaging by 10,600 kilograms or 18%. We have additional projects identified for 2013, and in conjunction with our vendor partners, we are working towards further reductions where possible.
We recognize the health and safety concerns associated with the use of phthalates in cosmetic and personal care products and we continue to review our private label products for the presence of dibutyl phthalate (DBP). In 2011, a total of 28 skus containing phthalates were identified and to date, 10 of the 28 items have been removed from sale. We remain committed to eliminating phthalates from existing cosmetic and personal care private label products that are manufactured after December 31, 2013 and will discontinue these products or find an alternative ingredient to ensure quality.
Consumer and product safety
Exceeding customer and patient expectations in providing high quality, safe and effective merchandise, medications and consumables is our number one priority. We have stringent compliance programs in place and work with our vendor partners and regulatory authorities to ensure the highest standards when it comes to product quality, safety and efficacy.
It is our expectation that all of our vendors meet or exceed the established government regulations, standards and recognized industry guidelines for product manufacturing. Our vendor agreements clearly state our expectations for product quality, safety and adherence to government regulations.
All globally-sourced products are tested for quality, safety, performance and compliance with all requirements of Canadian regulatory bodies prior to being shipped to Canada. If a product does not meet these requirements appropriate action is taken to ensure product quality is improved or the item is refused. We also review social compliance audits before conducting business with global vendors. If an audit is not available, we will work with an independent third-party auditor to ensure that a thorough inspection of the vendor’s operations and production facilities has been completed.
Our private label products also undergo regular quality assurance testing and our vendors must provide product specifications, including ingredient listings and certificates of compliance, for all private label product introductions. Vendors are also required to reduce PVCs and phthalates in our private label products. All of this information is reviewed and approved by our quality assurance team and records are maintained for each product. Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix does not commission the use of animal testing for any of our private label products.
We work closely with Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Federal Government to ensure that our products and operations meet all prescribed standards and regulations. We believe that these authorities are best positioned to identify and prevent potential product risks, and we follow their direction. Through direct contact with Health Canada and our membership with associations such as the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores and the Retail Council of Canada, we are kept apprised of emerging issues within the area of product safety. Our active involvement with these groups provides us with the required time and information necessary to take proactive steps to minimize the impact on our business and protect the safety of our customers and patients. We also engage with these groups on a regular basis in order to provide information updates to our category management team to ensure we are knowledgeable about changes in regulations with respect to the products we carry in our stores.
Customer concerns with respect to product safety are effectively managed through an on-line Product Return Form that immediately notifies our quality assurance team of the product and issue for their further investigation and/or monitoring. In the event of a specific product risk or concern, we have a clearly identified product recall process in place to ensure that we respond to any such situation quickly and effectively. In addition, Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix has implemented a product recall effectiveness program, which provides us with real-time tracking capabilities and updates as to the status of a recall across the store network.