Removal of PHOs is a first for a national retail drug chain
CVS said Wednesday that it’s the first national retail drug chain to remove partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) — the chief source of artificial trans fats in processed foods — from all of its exclusive store-brand food products. The retailer now sells more than 600 exclusive snack and grocery items free of artificial trans fats.
All snack and grocery store-brands product developed by CVS and shipping to distribution centers have been free of artificial trans fats as of the beginning of January. CVS noted that the move comes a year and a half before the Food and Drug Administration’s June 2018 deadline for processed foods to be reformulated without artificial trans fats.
“At CVS Pharmacy, we are dedicated to helping our customers lead healthier lives and moved quickly to ensure all of our snack and grocery store brands products are free from artificial trans fats,” Judy Sansone, senior vice president of front-store business and chief merchant at CVS Health, said in a statement. “Our commitment to producing high-quality products reinforces that CVS Pharmacy is a leading health destination.”
The removal of artificial trans fats continues CVS’ efforts to offer more healthful fare in its stores. Last June, CVS began rolling out an assortment of better-for-you food and beverages at more than 2,900 stores. That initiative built on a 500-store pilot that CVS launched in 2015, in which it enhanced the stores’ front-end presentations and offerings in consumables, health and beauty.
As part of its strategy, CVS said it has moved healthy foods toward the front of stores and allocated about 25% of front checkout space to better-for-you snacks. The retailer also has created “healthy eating trend zones” that showcase curated selections of paleo, raw and vegan snacks at periods throughout the year.
To help customers choose healthier food and beverage items, CVS also rolled out the Fit Choices shelf tagging program, which identifies products for nutritional and dietary preferences including heart healthy, good source of protein, gluten-free, sugar-free, organic and non-GMO project-verified.
CVS added that it aims to expand Gold Emblem abound, its line of wholesome snacks and groceries without artificial preservatives and flavors. The exclusive brand includes a range of products that are gluten-free, USDA organic, non-GMO project-verified, heart healthy, low-sodium, high in protein, a good source of fiber or sugar-free.
Artificial trans fats in processed foods are linked to rising heart disease rates in the United States, and their removal stands to help reduce coronary heart disease and help prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks annually, according to CVS.
“We applaud CVS Pharmacy for working proactively to remove artificial trans fats from its store brands products well in advance of the federal deadline,” stated Eduardo Sanchez, chief medical officer for prevention at the American Heart Association. “The early removal of trans fats in all CVS Pharmacy store-brand products will help to improve overall heart health and prevent heart disease for many Americans.”