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INDEPENDENT EXPERTS SHOULD REVIEW SAFETY SURVEY CONDUCTED BY FOOD LION'S CONSULTANTS, UFCW SAYS

 WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Food Lion should submit the findings of a 100-store food safety survey to an independent panel of public health experts, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union said today.
 The union said that the independent panel should also critique the chain's proposed "quality control" program before it is implemented.
 Food Lion hired consultants, the Webb Technical Group of Raleigh, N.C., to develop a program based on the survey, which has been completed, according to published reports. Food Lion is reportedly hoping to allay consumer fears over the safety of perishable food sold in its stores resulting from an ABC "PrimeTime Live" broadcast one year ago tomorrow.
 "PrimeTime Live" aired hidden camera videotape of employees forced to cut corners on food safety and sanitation by Food Lion's unrealistic scheduling system. Employees were shown repackaging spoiled and outdated food for sale to unsuspecting customers.
 When the segment first aired, Food Lion's president, Tom Smith, called it "lies" and a "fabrication" and blamed the UFCW, which had filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor charging that unrealistic scheduling also forced employees to work off the clock in violation of federal labor laws.
 Food Lion sued ABC seeking to block airing of the hidden camera videotape, but subsequently dropped any challenge to the accuracy of the ABC report. A suit against the UFCW was dismissed on July 21 by a federal judge.
 The chain also denied forcing employees to work off the clock, even after the Labor Department found "repeated and willful" violations, and Food Lion agreed to a record fine and back pay for an estimated 40,000 employees.
 "Consumer wariness about Food Lion's denials prompted the hiring of consultants to fix a problem Food Lion said didn't exist," said a UFCW spokesperson. "Shoppers shouldn't have to accept conclusions about non- existent problems made by handpicked, paid consultants who now appear in Food Lion's paid television ads."
 "`PrimeTime Live' was not about mopping floors and checking thermometers, as important as they are. In food safety, what you can't see is more dangerous than what you can see. `PrimeTime Live' was an indictment of Food Lion's practice of pushing employees too far and endangering their customers," the union added.
 The UFCW urged Food Lion to follow Nestle's example and present the survey and recommendations to a panel of public health experts in conjunction with the American Public Health Association.
 Nestle, criticized for promoting infant formula in violation of World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, asked an independent commission, chaired by former Secretary of State Edmund Muskie, to review steps taken to comply with WHO guidelines.
 "Food Lion still doesn't get it," the UFCW continued. "A review by public health experts, whose credentials and credibility speak louder than any commercial, would assure the public that this is not another public relations gimmick and that Food Lion recognizes its problems and is committed to real change.
 The UFCW suggested that either APHA or a panel of experts review Webb's work and make their report public.
 -0- 11/4/93
 /CONTACT: Al Zack of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, 202-223-3111/
 (FDLN)


CO: United Food and Commercial Workers Union; Food Lion ST: District of Columbia IN: REA SU:

KD-DC -- DC035 -- 0868 11/04/93 15:27 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 4, 1993
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