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Food Roundup: Coke Bottles, Pepsi Bottlers, Government Pork, Chavez vs. Cargill, and More

Mexican officials flaunt pork safety -- Two hundred government representatives ate pork at a party in order to assure the public that pork is not unsafe to eat, despite the recent outbreak of swine flu. Although the H1N1 influenza strain most likely originated in pigs, the virus later passed between humans and there is no evidence that anyone became sick through food products. The young boy thought to be patient zero in the pandemic was living near a Smithfield pig herd in Mexico, but testing showed that none of those pigs had the virus either, the company said Thursday. [Sources: Meat & Poultry, Daily Bread]

Coca-Cola developing bottle made from plants -- The company plans to test the eco-friendly 'PlantBottle' in its Dasani water products later this year. The bottles will still include petroleum-based plastics, but 30 percent of the plastic will be materials derived from sugar cane and molasses. The concept is still in development, but CEO Muhtar Kent said, "Over the next 10 years, that simple initiative will transform the whole concept of recycling." [Sources: GreenBiz.com, Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Pepsi bottlers pursue growth -- Both Pepsi Bottling Group and PepsiAmericas announced new deals or acquisitions just after rejecting a takeover bid by PepsiCo because the offer was too low. PepsiAmericas aims to expand its presence in Central America through a joint venture with Central American Beverage Corp., and, separately, Pepsi Bottling last week purchased a small Massachusetts bottler. The financial details of the two deals have not been disclosed. [Sources: Just-Drinks, Wall Street Journal]

Venezuela seizes Cargill pasta plant -- The government took temporary control over a pasta processing plant owned by Cargill, saying the company had failed to meet quotas for price-controlled food products. A Venezuela food minister said the government would run the factory for 90 days and then reevaluate. Earlier this year, Hugo Chavez' government took over a rice mill owned by a Cargill subsidiary for similar reasons. [Sources: Food Business News, BBC]

Massachusetts passes menu labeling -- After getting Public Health Council approval, the state has joined New York City and other local governments in requiring chain restaurants to provide customers with data on calories, fat and other nutrition info. The Massachusetts law applies to chains with 20 or more in-state locations, and the restaurants have until November, 2010 to be in compliance. [Source: Boston Herald, h/t Fast Casual]

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