floor debate, Congress last week appeared ready to pass the "National Uniformity for Food Act of 2005," a bill that would supersede about 200 state-specific food safety laws and give the Food and Drug Administration exclusive authority over all food safety and labeling requirements nationwide. Supporters of the bill, including some 227 co-signers in the House, say it will eliminate confusion and streamline food manufacturing processes, ultimately benefiting consumers. Detractors - including consumer advocacy groups and 37 state attorneys general - have sharply criticized the bill, calling it an unnecessary usurpation of states' rights.
AMSTERDAM - The trial of Cees van der Hoeven and three other former Ahold executives who are accused of fraud in the company's 2003 accounting debacle is scheduled to begin here today. The Dutch Ministry of Justice previously predicted that the trial would last seven weeks. Van der Hoeven, the former chief executive officer, along with Michiel Meurs, the former chief financial officer; Jan Andrae, a former executive board member; and Roland Fahlin, a former audit committee member, are accused of deceiving investors by overstating profits by more than $1 billion through accounting improprieties that included inflated vendor rebates at its U.S. Foodservice division and recognition of revenues from overseas joint ventures. Ahold itself is not being charged in the fraud case. Last year, it agreed to pay a fine of about $10 million to settle the investigation with Dutch prosecutors.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Four locations of D&W Food Centers here will close by the end of the month, according to published reports. The closures coincide with D&W's acquisition by Spartan Stores, which is also expected to be complete by the end of the month. D&W stores set to close are located in Plainfield Township, Walker, Zeeland and Norton Shores. The Plainfield, Walker and Zeeland stores are being closed due to their proximity to Family Fare supermarkets operated by Spartan. Spartan announced the purchase of D&W in December.
NEW YORK - Residents of selected apartment buildings will receive unattended, priority delivery of groceries from FreshDirect as part of a "preferred building" program announced by the online retailer here last week. Buildings participating in the program will have refrigerators and freezers installed in common areas to receive FreshDirect deliveries. The buildings will also have reserved early delivery times, eliminating the need for residents to be home when their groceries arrive. The Developers Group, a real estate services firm chosen as the first participant in the preferred building program, said the offering will help attract homebuyers for developing properties it advises, including The Aurora and 133 Water in Brooklyn, and The Echelon in Long Island City, Queens.
CHICAGO - Internet grocer Peapod here and Stop & Shop, Quincy, Mass., both owned by Ahold, said they would begin making deliveries today to additional areas on Long Island, N.Y. Residents of communities such as Ronkokama, Holbrook, Medford and Shirley can now visit www.stopandshop.com to shop. In coming weeks, Peapod will add areas in communities such as Commack, Northport, Coram and Smithtown. Stop & Shop cardholders can jump-start their first order online from a list of items they have bought at their local Stop & Shop by entering their card number online, Peapod said.