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Locally owned grocers prepare for bio-terrorism

Independent grocers now have a guide to help them when it comes to being prepared for bio-terrorism. Members of the Ohio Grocers Association and Ohio Departments of Agriculture, Health and Public Safety met at Hilltop Market Place to unveil the new plan. Large corporate chains have security plans in place. But Hilltop store director, Bill Taylor, said small stores like his need some help in planning.

"It raised all of our awareness level of do you have a plan in place for bio-terrorism type activities? As the orange alert turns into a yellow alert you don't think that much about it, but it's always in the back of your mind since 9-11. Everything's always in the back of your mind like that," Taylor said.

Taylor admitted it's easy for people to become complacent, but said this guide will hopefully deter that.

"In your everyday business your pace is hectic and you don't notice somebody that may be hanging out by the water section for an inordinate amount of time. Could they be tampering with it?," Taylor said.

The guide, which includes a CD-Rom, offers ways for retailers to determine where their weaknesses may be. It also offers a checklist for personnel, food security management, property and products. Taylor said the guides will also be available at health departments around the state. The guides were paid for by the State Departments of Agriculture and Health and Ohio Homeland Security Department.