WASHINGTON, DC – February 20, 2000 – Responding to increasing consumer and regulator demands that food products be produced under the safest conditions possible, Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Food Distributors International (FDI) announce the release of Food Safety Initiative: Vendor Qualification Program, a new tool for verifying supplier compliance with food safety regulations.

Accompanied by a CD-ROM, the publication highlights the issues and questions that retailers may wish to consider in evaluating their vendors. There are no right or wrong answers to the questions. The overall program is intended to assist retailers, distributors and suppliers in developing better integrated processes for the purchase, transportation, storage, and handling of products, especially perishable products that pose the greatest challenge.

“This program will be a great benefit to retailers in evaluating the effectiveness of their suppliers’ food safety programs,” said Jill Hollingsworth, FMI vice president of food safety programs. “It will also enable retailers and suppliers to develop cooperative, comprehensive food safety initiatives.”

"The Vendor Qualification Program contains a wealth of information pertaining to safe handling procedures for perishable food products," said Dennis Madsen, FDI Vice President Education & Operational Services. "It will be a tremendous management tool for developing the food safety dialogue between distributors and suppliers."

The program is divided into five separate questionnaires:

? General Vendor
? Dairy and Egg Products
? Produce
? Meat and Poultry
? Seafood

The accompanying CD-ROM includes two sets of information that are helpful in developing a stronger food safety program. It contains files of all questionnaires, allowing for convenient reproduction. Also included is an extensive reference list of information available via the Internet.

To order a copy of Food Safety Initiative: Vendor Qualification Program, please contact FMI publications at(202)452-8444.

Please Note: FMI and FDI will host a telecon-ference for interested media at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 24, 2000. Please call Paige Raines or Bob Gatty at (703) 532-9400 to schedule your participation.