updated 2/8/2005 1:52:00 PM ET 2005-02-08T18:52:00

Betty Ann Fischer has been old enough to buy liquor for more than 50 years. So the 71-year-old was a little surprised when a grocery store clerk asked her for ID before selling her a bottle of wine.

The identification checks at all Pick ’n Save and Copps food stores in Wisconsin are part of a new policy by Roundy’s Inc. requiring cashiers to check the age of everyone buying cigarettes or alcohol — regardless of whether they look 21 or 91.

“The first time it was a sweet young man, and I laughed because I thought he was trying to pay me a sweet compliment. But then he said, ‘No, I’m serious,”’ Fischer said. “I thought he was just joshing with me.”

Roundy’s said it started its “We Card Because We Care” program at all of its Pick ’n Save or Copps stores in Wisconsin to prevent underage drinking and tobacco use and to help local law enforcement. The company has 77 stores in the state, most of them Pick ’n Save or Copps.

The National Association of Beverage Retailers, representing 20,000 bar and liquor store owners in 34 states, does not know of another major chain with a similar companywide policy, spokesman John Bodnovich said.

Wal-Mart, the country’s largest grocer, cards anyone buying tobacco or alcohol who looks under age 27, spokeswoman Sharon Weber said. She said that age was set for its rule after consultation with attorneys general in several states.

Walgreens drugstores rescinded a short-lived policy of asking all tobacco buyers for ID in 2002 after elderly customers complained, spokeswoman Carol Hively said. The company now checks IDs of anyone who looks under 40.

Roundy’s spokeswoman Lynn Guyer provided a news release on the policy but did not return repeated calls from The Associated Press seeking comment. The Milwaukee-based company, which has not implemented the policy at its 32 Minnesota stores, has said no one who is clearly old enough will be denied a liquor purchase.

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