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Wal-Mart Refuses to Meet with Consumer Group


For Immediate Release:
Contact: Wenonah Hauter (202) 454-5150                      
              Tony Corbo        (202) 454-5131

May 8, 2000

Wal-Mart Refuses to Meet with Consumer Group

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Corporate executives from Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, have refused to meetwith a representative from Public Citizen, a consumer group founded by Ralph Nader, todiscuss the company’sdecision to sell irradiated meat in its stores.

Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project, was in Arkansas from April 30 through May 2and made herself available to meet with Wal-Mart officials. Hauter visited the state todiscuss the hazards of food irradiation at various meetings of consumer groups.

Public Citizen first contacted Wal-Mart on April 6 to askfor an appointment on May 2 with H. Lee Scott, Jr., the newly appointed CEO of Wal-Mart.When Public Citizen did not hear back from the company, the organization contacted thecompany again on April 18. A company representative said that Scott would not be availableon May 2 because he was touring stores, but another company executive might be availableto meet with Hauter. On April 25, Public Citizen was told that perhaps a “telephoneinterview” with Wal-Mart’s vice president for corporate affairs would be more appropriate during theweek of May 1. A Public Citizen staffer told Wal-Mart that Hauter would still beinterested in having the discussion even if it were on the phone. Then, on May 3, PublicCitizen received a phone call indicating that the company would “take a pass on thisat this time.”

“Wal-Mart is taking a big risk by being the first majorretailer in the country to sell irradiated meat to consumers,” Hauter said.”Other supermarket chains have held back on making a decision to sell this productpending Wal-Mart’sexperience with it. It would seem that company officials would be interested in listeningto people who shop at their stores to discuss this issue. We are still willing to sit downand talk with the company’sexecutives on this matter.”

Public Citizen will continue to educate the public about the hazards of irradiated meatby doing such things as handing fliers and post cards to Wal-Mart customers at storesthroughout the country, Hauter said.