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    Giant of Carlisle Bans Sale of Diet Supplements to Customers Under 18

    CARLISLE, Pa. -- After a call from a concerned customer, Giant Food Stores, LLC here has voluntarily moved to ban the sale of diet supplements to consumers under the age of 18. The ban took effect Sunday, Aug. 14, across the entire operation, the chain said yesterday.

    CARLISLE, Pa. -- After a call from a concerned customer, Giant Food Stores, LLC here has voluntarily moved to ban the sale of diet supplements to consumers under the age of 18. The ban took effect Sunday, Aug. 14, across the entire operation, the chain said yesterday.

    "We rolled out this policy change to all stores in both the Giant and Tops divisions, a total of 274 stores," v.p. advertising and public relations Denny Hopkins told Progressive Grocer.

    The retailer created the new policy because of a father's call to a Giant Food Store in Pennsylvania, after his teenage daughter bought diet pills there. "The father's concern raised the issue as a priority to us, and we were able to act upon it from a systems change and communications standpoint, including a sign package to the stores within five days," noted Hopkins.

    The signs, placed at each checkout and in-store aisle where the supplements are found, read as follows: "Attention Customers: You must be 18 years or older to purchase certain dietary supplements."

    Additionally, the company has reprogrammed its cash register computers so that when a diet supplement is scanned, the cashier is prompted to request ID, as in the case of alcohol or cigarette purchases.

    A division of Ahold USA, Giant Food decided which items would be subject to the ban by studying labels, many of which contain warnings that the supplements are not to be used by children under 18, or that consumers below that age consult a doctor first before using the products.

    The company has identified 46 products for which buyers will have to produce ID, ranging the alphabetical spectrum from Acutrim Weight Loss Program to Xtreme Metabolife FX Caplets.

    As noted by the Web site MedPage Today, Giant Food's diet supplement ban for minors comes in the wake of a recent study, published in the journal Pediatrics, in which ages 12 to 18, 8 percent of 6,212 12- to 18-year-old girls polled and 12 percent of 12- to 18-year-old 4,237 boys surveyed said that they have used protein shakes, growth hormone, anabolic steroids, or other supplements to improve their appearance, muscle mass or physical strength. The study further noted that girls interested in losing weight "were more likely than their peers to use these products."

    Although Giant Food isn't the first retailer to institute such a policy, Hopkins said he thought his company was clearly in the vanguard of food stores to do so. "I understand that Wal-Mart, Weis, and some drug chains have similar policies," said Hopkins.

    Giant Food operates the following banners: Tops Markets in Ohio and in western New York, Giant in Pennsylvania and most of New York, and Martins Food Markets in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.
    --Bridget Goldschmidt

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