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General Mills plans expansion of its international business

BY Jenna Duncan

MILWAUKEE General Mills has said that it plans to keep building its international business in order to avoid negative effects of the slow economy. Its international segment is its fastest-growing business at present, the company has said.

General Mills’ chief executive officer, Ken Powell, explained to the company’s shareholders that it will continue to grow brands such as its Haagen-Dazs ice cream business, Old El Paso brand Mexican foods and cereals and other staples such as Cheerios. He said that General Mills also plans to launch 300 new products in 2009.

Figures for the company’s international sales have doubled from $1.3 billion in 2003 to $2.6 billion in fiscal 2008, the company reported. That reflects growth of 21 percent over last year’s sales.

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Mars promises to maintain high quality in chocolate production

BY Jenna Duncan

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. Mars Snackfood U.S. has stated that it will continue to use 100 percent cocoa butter in its production of chocolate candies, maintaining its standards of quality and purity.

The company made the statement in order to differentiate its chocolate products from other companies that use coca butter substitutes in production, yet also label their candies “chocolate.” The company explained that cocoa butter is a key ingredient for making chocolate which assures its texture and creaminess.

Todd R. Lachman, president of Mars Snackfood U.S. told the press, “Mars chocolate products are pure, authentic chocolate and they’re going to stay that way. We simply won’t compromise the purity and authenticity of our chocolate by diluting it with a cocoa butter substitute.  This company was built on quality—it’s one of our core principles—and we will not lower the bar on chocolate quality.”

Mars has reported U.S. annual sales of $7 billion for combined sales of food, snack and pet care products. Additionally, the company has spent more than $70 million to expand a manufacturing plant in Elizabethtown, Penn. Mars has been producing chocolate candies for more than 100 years.

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FDA issues warning on baby formulas made in China

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Baby formula sold in the United States by companies that have met regulatory requirements is safe from the melamine contamination, the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement Saturday, based on a health information advisory it had released Sept. 12.

The advisory also warned members of Chinese communities in the United States that baby formula manufactured in China and available at Asian grocery stores could pose a risk to babies and advised against buying Chinese-made baby formula from other sources, such as Web sites. However, the FDA had contacted companies that manufacture baby formula for distribution in the U.S. and received information that they had not imported formula or source material from China.

An investigation by FDA, state and local officials of Asian grocery stores around the country, particularly in cities with large Chinese communities, has not turned up any Chinese baby formula.

The widespread melamine contamination of milk-based baby formula in China has sickened more than 50,000 children and created a political scandal. On Monday, Li Changjiang, head of China?s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, which monitors safety of food and other products, stepped down, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

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