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The Rain Forest Stamp Of Approval

Kraft Foods Inc., the largest U.S. food and beverage company, said Tuesday it will sell coffee from farms in Latin America that are certified by a conservation group as socially and environmentally responsible.

In the first year of the program, Kraft will buy 5 million pounds of coffee beans from farms in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Central America that are approved by the Rainforest Alliance, said Kraft spokeswoman Patricia Riso.

She would not say how much coffee Kraft buys overall each year.

The price of the certified coffee, which will be in stores starting in 2004, has not been determined, Riso said. Kraft's coffee brands include Maxwell House and Jacobs.

The partnership comes as an increasing number of U.S. coffee sellers respond to activists' calls about the coffee industry. Starbucks Coffee Co., Sara Lee Corp. and Procter & Gamble sell "fair-trade" coffee, which is intended to return more profits to growers and ensure environmental protection.