retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Washington Business Journal reports that Walmart has been issued two building permits for stores that it plans to open in the District of Columbia, despite the best efforts of some constituencies to prevent their opening. Four more stores are in the planning stages.

Bloomberg reports that the Beijing Food Safety Agency in China has cited Walmart there "for selling sesame oil and squid with hazardous levels of chemicals."

Walmart had acquired the sesame oil and squid from Chinese companies, and the retailer said it removed the products from its shelves as soon as it was made aware of the problem.

According to the story, "China this week unveiled measures to improve food safety, including tighter supervision and harsh punishments for violators, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Police in China arrested Wal-Mart workers in Chongqing in October amid a probe of allegations the retailer mislabeled ordinary pork as organic. They were released in May."
KC's View:
The big question is whether China's food safety initiatives are cosmetic or real.