Kraft-Heinz rejected a petition with concerns about product safety, showing what they think about their consumer's concerns
Editor's note: This op-ed is an update after a petition was delivered to Kraft-Heinz's Pittsburgh headquarters last month calling for immediate action to find and remove phthalates from their supply chain.
It was a small gathering: A few parents with children and some students and activists in downtown Pittsburgh with a permit, hand-drawn signs, and a textbook's worth of signatures.
This was Kraft-Heinz's chance two weeks ago to show a commitment to the safety of their products and customers. Instead, they kicked us to the curb, menaced us off the sidewalk, and made us stand in the street while we tried to deliver a petition. They ignored more than 100,000 people who are concerned about high concentrations of toxic, endocrine disrupting phthalates in their products.
Every effort was made to contact Kraft-Heinz to arrange a meeting, deliver the petition, and start working together toward safer food. When they failed to respond, a small group assembled with one goal: To get Kraft to listen and engage with their consumers by addressing phthalate contamination in their supply chain.
Instead, Kraft-Heinz chose to send security guards to stand outside their door as if we were a threat. Their decision is in line with a long history of systematic corporate denial of health hazards in products, following in the footsteps of the tobacco and lead industries by refusing to even acknowledge that a problem exists, the classic Deceit and Denialstrategy.
Kraft has advertised their commitment to responsible business practices, but how can they claim to be a responsible organization while ignoring the concerns of 100,000+ consumers about their health and the health of their children? Instead of acting as an industry leader in food safety, Kraft-Heinz hid from the concerns of their customers.
This kind of flagrant disregard for public health threats can't just fade away. Our society can't afford to continue being exposed to toxic chemicals, as with the phthalates in their food, Kraft-Heinz's rejection of the petition is toxic to our democracy, our health, and our future.
Kraft-Heinz has lost this opportunity to show that they care about the public good.
Now it's up to us and our representatives in government to remind them that it's their job to ensure the safety of their products.
William Fahy is a student in the Department of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.