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FDA approves Coca-Cola, PepsiCo sweeteners derived from stevia plant

BY Jenna Duncan

ATLANTA, GEORGIA and PURCHASE, N.Y. The Food and Drug Administration has announced that a sweetener derived from the stevia plant that were developed by Cargill and Coca-Cola, and one developed by PepsiCo, have been approved for use in foods and beverages.

Coca-Cola and Cargill had partnered to develop the branded sweetener Truvia which will be used to sweeten soft drinks and fruit-flavored beverages, the companies have said.

PepsiCo’s PureVia sweetener, also created from a process using rebiana, a natural extract from the South American –native stevia plant, also received designation as “generally safe” for human consumption.

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Danone to discontinue sales, bottling of Arvie brand bottled water

BY Jenna Duncan

PARIS Groupe Danone has announced that it will no longer make or distribute its Arvie brand mineral water after a slump in bottled water sales.

Danone is slated to close the Arvie bottling plant in early 2009. Employees at the Arvie plant will be moved to operations at Danone’s Volvic plant.

Reports have stated that sales of Arvie bottled water dropped from 65 million bottles sold per year to roughly 8 million between the years of 2000 and 2008.

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Mars announces winner of million-dollar Halloween contest prize

BY Jenna Duncan

PHOENIX Mars Snackfood on Thursday announced the grand-prize winner of its Halloween Million Contest as Michelle Willis of Ahwatukee, Ariz.

Willis received an oversized check written out in the amount of $1 million delivered to her by M&Ms characters.

Willis said that she would use part of her winnings for a surgery for her pet Chihuahua, Belle, to have a tumor removed.

“Belle is my best friend, and we were so worried about how we were going to cover the cost of the surgery,” Willis said.

“When we got home from meeting with the vet, there was a FedEx letter saying that I had won the contest,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it was true, so I called my daughters into the room so they could read it, too. The operation was weighing so heavily on my mind that this news was perfect timing.”

Mars’ Halloween Million sweepstakes ran earlier this year online. Entrants 13 years of age and older were invited to sign in at HalloweenMillion.com where they could enter UPC codes from Mars candy packages such as Snickers, M&Ms, Milky Way bars, Skittles and others.

Mars said that the $1 million grand prize money will be paid to Willis as a 20-year annuity.

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