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Food Roundup: Wal-Mart Sustainability Index, E. Coli Mystery and More

Wal-Mart to measure sustainability of all products -- Wal-Mart has been developing a "sustainability index" to measure the environmental impact of every product it sells. The company isn't set to announce the project until Thursday, according to Marc Gunther of The Big Money, but he spoke with faculty at the University of Arkansas along with other partners working on the index. Other companies involved include Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Tyson, and Unilever. [Source: The Big Money]

Nestle cleared in E. coli illnesses -- Although E. coli was found in a sample of Nestle's Toll House cookie dough, it does not match the strain that sent 74 people to the hospital in recent weeks. Furthermore, a thorough FDA inspection of Nestle's plant turned up no trace of E. coli bacteria, and the factory has resumed production of cookie dough. The actual source of the E. coli illnesses remains a mystery. [Sources: CNN,, Food Business Review]

Chipotle promotes Food Inc. -- Though many in the food industry have come out against the documentary Food Inc., Chipotle Mexican Grill is supporting the film, sponsoring free screenings in 32 cities and putting promotional materials for the film in its restaurants. "I hope that all our customers see this film," Chipotle founder and co-CEO Steve Ells said. "The more they know about where their food comes from, the more they will appreciate what we do." Food Inc. relies heavily on the work of food industry critics Michael Pollan, who wrote The Omnivore's Dilemma, and Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation. [Sources: Business Wire, BNET Food]

ConAgra Slim Jim plant to resume production -- Production will begin again at ConAgra's Slim Jim plant in North Carolina on July 27, just weeks after a gas explosion tore the building apart and killed three employees. The packaging area is too damaged to reopen, so the company will use outside parties for packaging, but production will be shared between the North Carolina plant and another plant in Ohio. ConAgra has continued to pay all employees even though the factory has been closed since the blast. [Source: Meat & Poultry]