Briefly 7/18/07

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Candy maker vows to keep using cocoa butter

CHICAGO ­-- The maker of M&M's and Milky Way bars says it would be a mistake to mess with its chocolate. Mars Inc. said Monday it will continue to use 100 percent cocoa butter in its U.S. chocolate products, bucking an industry campaign to allow cheaper vegetable oils to be substituted. The announcement comes amid a push by a dozen food industry groups to change long-established federal standards to allow for replacing cocoa butter with another vegetable fat, up to a level of 5 percent.

Auto workers' talks continue into evening

DETROIT -- Contract talks between the United Auto Workers and General Motors Corp. stretched into Monday evening amid optimism that the two sides were closer to a critical agreement that could take billions in retiree health care costs off GM's books. The optimism pushed auto stocks higher on Wall Street, but at the factories, workers were less certain as they spent a third day without a new contract. Negotiations resumed about 11 a.m. Monday after bargainers stopped to rest about 3 a.m., and talks were continuing into the evening, GM spokesman Tom Wickham said.

N.Y. sues drugmaker for fraud over Vioxx

NEW YORK -- The state and city sued Merck & Co. Inc. on Monday, accusing the drugmaker of defrauding Medicaid and other government insurance programs by hiding the risks of heart problems associated with its pain medication Vioxx. The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan's state Supreme Court, said the state's Medicaid and Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage programs have paid more than $100 million for Vioxx prescriptions since the drug went on sale in 1999. For its residents receiving Medicaid assistance, New York City paid a substantial share of those costs.

Greenies maker settles lawsuit over dog treats

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The makers of Greenies, one of the nation's best-selling dog treats, have settled a class-action lawsuit claiming the teeth-cleaning product injured or killed close to a dozen dogs. U.S. District Judge Gary Fenner on Monday agreed with a joint request to dismiss the case. Alan Sash, who represented 10 dog owners against Kansas City-based manufacturer S&M NuTec, said the case was settled but the terms were confidential. Greenies are hard, dark green treats designed to scrub dogs' teeth while being chewed. The treats have become extremely popular in recent years, with pet owners snapping up more than 300 million annually.

Dole recalls bagged lettuce in U.S., Canada

SAN FRANCISCO -- A division of Dole Food Co. issued an international recall of bagged salad Monday after a sample taken from a store in Canada tested positive for E. coli, the company said. There have been no reports of illness, company officials said. The voluntary recall affects all packages of Dole's Hearts Delight salad mix sold in the United States and Canada with a "best if used by" date of Sept. 19, 2007, and a production code of "A24924A" or "A24924B," Dole said.

-- From wire reports

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