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Guiding Principles

These eight principles are Food Alliance’s definition of sustainability in food and farming, and the over-arching framework of our standards and certification program:


Protect, enhance, and conserve soil resources, water resources, and biodiversity

Food production improves soil productivity, protects water quality and supply, and supports healthy native plant and animal communities.

Conserve energy, reduce and recycle waste

Waste streams from food production are minimized while reuse, recycling, and composting of resources is maximized. Businesses invest in innovation and improvement to ensure efficient use and management of natural resources for energy and packaging, transport, and daily operations.

Reduce use of pesticides, and other toxic and hazardous materials

Food businesses avoid use of chemicals that have adverse impacts on the health of ecosystems. Agriculture relies on a biologically based system of Integrated Pest Management. Materials used for sanitation, pest control, waste treatment, and infrastructural maintenance are chosen to reduce overall negative consequences.

Support safe and fair working conditions

Farmers and food industry workers have secure and rewarding jobs that provide a sound livelihood. Employers respect workers’ rights and well-being, make safety a priority, maintain a professional workplace, and provide opportunities for training and advancement.

Ensure healthy, humane animal treatment with no growth hormones or non-therapeutic antibiotics

Animals are treated with care and respect. Living conditions provide access to natural light, fresh air, fresh water, and a healthy diet, shelter from extremes of temperature, and adequate space and the opportunity to engage in natural behaviors and have social contact with other animals. Livestock producers minimize animal fear and stress during handling, transportation and slaughter.

Guarantee product integrity, no genetically engineered or artificial ingredients

Foods are not produced using synthetic preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or products derived from livestock treated with sub-therapeutic antibiotics or growth-promoting hormones.

Maintain transparent and sustainable “chain of custody”

Throughout the entire supply chain, food is produced and handled in accordance with these Principle Values. Transparency is maintained independent standards, third-party audits and clear labeling.

Continually improve practices

Food businesses are committed to continually improving management practices. Improvement goals are integrated into company culture, regularly monitored, and acknowledged when achieved. Food buyers are proactively engaged in the food system, and support companies that are transparent about their improvement goals and progress.

Learn more about the Guiding Principles >>