Safeway has found itself in the spotlight after new research from analysts at ING said it was the “least conservative retailer” when it comes to calculating like-for-like sales.

Safeway and unlisted Budgens scored lowest in the ING ranking system which looks at whether retailers count extended and refurbished stores in their like-for-like estate, and also at whether they exclude existing stores from the calculation because a new store has opened in the vicinity.

Sainsbury's, Asda and Safeway have been criticised by the RSPCA for being among food companies so far unwilling to commit to buying only free-range or barn eggs in future.

In its new report on caged hens the animal charity has called for a ban on all types of cages for egg-laying hens by 2007.

Cigarettes produced in the European Union can be labelled as “mild” or “light” provided they are sold outside the EU, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

The ruling is a victory for manufacturers such as British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco, which export a substantial part of their EU-made cigarettes to the Asian and Middle Eastern markets.

However, EU’s top court confirmed that a ban on descriptions such as “light” and “mild” would be banned in the EU from October.

Woolworths shares dropped 7% yesterday amid rumours of poor trading in toys as well as seasonal confectionery such as Christmas chocolate gift sets.

Woolies refused to comment on trading but denied it had held an emergency board meeting on Monday.