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• The Houston Chronicle reports that United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) negotiators are criticizing Kroger executives for not attending a negotiating session yesterday, though the Kroger folks say that they were busy trying to avert a strike in their Dallas stores and had informed the union they could not attend.

The Houston contract expired in March, but an extension has been agreed to while the two sides talk. Dallas has become a more immediate problem, according to the paper, because the UFCW has refused to agree to another extension there. The Dallas contract expires on Sunday.

• The Detroit News reports that The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) “will begin liquidating the inventory in 41 Detroit area Farmer Jack supermarket stores today as part of a plan to sell off or close the 66 store chain by July 7.” Local analysts believe that while A&P has sold a number of its stores to Kroger, there are some that it believes will not be sold, and that it just makes sense to shut them down as soon as possible.

• Safeway reportedly has settled a lawsuit charging that several of its private label soft drinks contained the carcinogenic chemical benzene. The formation of benzene, according to scientists, can be accidentally triggered by how heat and light interacts with certain chemicals.

Safeway has already reformulated the affected products, according to the reports.

• The Columbus Dispatch reports that Giant Eagle may be considering building as many as five new stores in the central Ohio market, which would raise its store count there to 24.
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