For Immediate Release
Safeway May Face Lawsuit for Failing to Alert Purchasers of Recalled Food
Unlike Other Chains, Safeway Won’t Use Club Card Data to Notify Members of Recalls, Says CSPI
WASHINGTON - Even though it collects phone numbers and email addresses from its
Club Card members, Safeway won't use that data to contact people who
bought contaminated food. The nonprofit Center for Science in the
Public Interest today notified
Safeway that CSPI will file a lawsuit against the grocery chain if
it fails to adopt a policy to notify Club Card members who purchased
contaminated food subject to recalls.
Many other leading retailers do use customer contact
information generated by their bonus card programs to notify consumers
when they've purchased recalled food. In 2009, as thousands of peanut-containing
products tainted with deadly Salmonella bacteria were being
recalled, chains such as Costco sent letters
or automated phone calls out to people who bought those foods.
That was also the practice of Giant, Harris Teeter, Price Chopper,
ShopRite, Wegman's, and other chains. Even though that outbreak
sickened hundreds and claimed nine lives, Safeway did not contact its
Club Card shoppers during that or any other recall.
"It shocks the conscience that a major retailer would sit on
its hands, even though it has easy access to the emails, addresses, and
phone numbers of those who have purchased food that might be
contaminated," said CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner. "Perhaps
Safeway saves a few pennies by remaining silent. But why would you
knowingly risk letting your customers fall ill, or worse, die?"
Unless Safeway makes a commitment to notify consumers of Class 1
recalls-those recalls of products "that predictably could cause serious
health problems or death"-CSPI will file a lawsuit aimed at compelling
the company to do so, the group said in a letter to Safeway chairman and
CEO Steven A. Bird. In the letter,
CSPI says that Safeway's failure to notify consumers that they've
bought potentially dangerous products violates state consumer protection
laws in Texas, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and California.
Card data "may be used to help make Safeway's products, services and
programs more useful to its customers." And, the company reserves the
right to "disclose personal information to our related companies and
third parties." Yet, even when it has sold foods that might have been
contaminated with E. Coli, Salmonella, botulism, or other deadly
hazards, Safeway does not use its Club Card information to prevent
customers from eating that food, according to CSPI.