WASHINGTON, DC — January 9, 2002 — “Retailers across the U.S. are already securing the food supply in accordance with many of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines issued today,” said Tim Hammonds, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI).

“Many retailers are taking steps to screen the workplace for security. In addition, FMI members are helping police break up shoplifting rings. Last fall, FMI launched a program to identify organized shoplifters. Members are also using the program to check if employees have criminal backgrounds.

“FMI is offering these services through a strategic alliance with Digital Data Development, one of the nation’s leading innovators of anti-fraud technology. The company is identifying rings and providing background checks with the help of FMI members, FBI lists of criminal suspects and a computer program known as Non-Obvious Relationship AwarenessTM or NORATM.”

Today, FMI announced plans to offer members the Web-based service ScreenNowTM. “This service,” Hammonds said, “screens people for criminal records, verifies Social Security numbers and provides other background checks. Retailers can use it to screen both existing and prospective employees. FMI is offering ScreenNowTM to all members and waiving the startup fees.” The service is managed by ChoicePoint, one of the nation’s largest providers of background investigations.

“Security has been paramount to our industry since the first product-tampering cases in the early 1980s,” Hammonds said. “Since then, we’ve been upgrading security with tamper-resistant packaging, closed-circuit television, electronic surveillance tags and other measures.

“Since 9/11, food retailers have redoubled those efforts working closely with security experts throughout the supply chain and with government and law enforcement officials.

“We welcome FDA’s new security guidelines. And we will observe them, building on the security measures already in place.”