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Monday, September 21, 2009

Seventeen years later, Food Lion still saving money on refrigeration

Posted By on Mon, Sep 21, 2009 at 9:59 AM

click to enlarge food_lion.jpg
Nearly two decades after Diane Sawyer busted the Food Lion grocery store chain for selling rotting meat to customers, the company still seems obsessed with saving money on refrigeration,  according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In 1992, ABC's Primetime Live reported that Food Lion workers soaked rotten fish in baking soda, re-wrapped old chicken in barbecue sauce, and sold rat-gnawed cheese alongside rotting meat. The company sued -- not for libel, but on the theory that Sawyer's producers committed fraud when they signed up as Food Lion employees and hid cameras in their wigs. Food Lion's legal strategy threatened to set back American press freedom to a new pre-Constitutional era, where reporters seeking to going undercover to expose, say, abuse of mentally-ill patients, could potentially be punished for fraud.

A $5.5 million punitive verdict was eventually thrown out in federal appeals court, but not before undercover investigative reporting became largely passe in the nervous-nellie U.S. news business.

Fast-forwarding to the present, and the chain seems to still be determined to make every penny count when it comes to refrigerating food. According to the publication Biotech Business Week, the EPA earlier

this month awarded Food Lion its Distinguished Partner Award at the

Food Marketing Institute's Sustainability Summit in San Francisco. Food

Lion was lionized for "deploying advanced refrigeration technology at

new stores," the Biotech Business Week reported.

The EPA's Green Chill program -- which Food Lion was lauded for enthusiastically participating in -- encourages businesses to install refrigerators that don't emit ozone-depleting gasses. The EPA says these measures can also save businesses money. Potential industry-wide savings of over $12 million annually from reduced refrigerant costs, the agency reports on its Web site.

In the past, ABC alleged that Food Lion saved money by selling food past its past due date -- "We need to look in the dumpsters, get the good product out of it back into the store, and sell it," -- was the advice of a 1989 memo to store managers turned up by ABC lawyers

Now, Food Lion apparently saves money the right way -- by installing state of the art refrigerators.

Way to go, Food Lion!

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Matt Smith

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