NEWS WATCH

FDA WILL REQUIRE TRANS-FAT LABELING BY 2006e required to disclose the number of grams of trans fatty acids on their products' nutrition labels, effective Jan. 1, 2006, Dr. Mark McClellan, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said last week. The move was welcomed by the Grocery Manufacturers of America, based here, and praised by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, also based

FDA WILL REQUIRE TRANS-FAT LABELING BY 2006

e required to disclose the number of grams of trans fatty acids on their products' nutrition labels, effective Jan. 1, 2006, Dr. Mark McClellan, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said last week. The move was welcomed by the Grocery Manufacturers of America, based here, and praised by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, also based here, which had been pushing for such a regulation for 10 years. In a conference call, McClellan said the agency was making the move to promote disease prevention and healthier living. It is the first major change since the Nutrition Facts panel went into effect in 1993.

GIGANTE LOOKING FOR NORTHERN CALIF. SITES: REPORT

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Grupo Gigante is looking for additional locations in Northern California to expand its presence in the state, the chain's real-estate broker told SN. Executives of the chain's U.S.-based operations here could not be reached for comment. However, Jose de Jesus Legaspi, principal in The Legaspi Co., Montebello, Calif., said Gigante is exploring sites in Northern California with an eye toward opening at least three stores there.

The Mexico City-based retailer already has five stores in Southern California, with three more 45,000-square-foot locations scheduled to open later this year.

ARKANSAS COURT REVERSES WAL-MART'S UNION BAN

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The Arkansas Supreme Court here reversed a lower court order banning union organizers anywhere in the U.S. from entering stores operated by Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark. The court said Benton County Circuit Court Judge Jim Spears erred in issuing an October 2001 restraining order based on the "immediacy of the potential harm" an organizing drive by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Washington, posed to Wal-Mart. The Supreme Court, in contrast, ruled Wal-Mart had failed to show that the UFCW's limited on-site activities seriously hurt the company. A Wal-Mart spokesman told SN that company lawyers had not yet examined the ruling.

SAFEWAY SETTLES CONSUMER PROTECTION SUIT

PLEASANTON, Calif. -- Safeway here said last week it has settled for $2 million a consumer protection lawsuit brought by the district attorneys of three California counties. Dani Jo Handell, a prosecutor for Sonoma County, explained that the lawsuit arose from a consumer complaint about a mix-and-match, buy-one-get-one-free sale during which a shopper buying four items was told she could not get identically priced items, only lower priced items, for free. "I hope this sends a message that even small counties can be effective in consumer fraud prosecutions," Handell told SN. A Safeway spokesman said, "We have made adjustments to the program that address the district attorneys' concerns and will make the offers clearer and less confusing to customers." Safeway, which admitted no wrongdoing, will pay $500,000 to each of the three counties along with an additional $500,000 to a fund for consumer protection, according to Handell.