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• The New York Times reports that questions have been raised by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) about whether organic products from China are indeed organic, even though they have been carrying the “USDA organic” seal.

According to the story, USDA “which uses private groups to conduct most organic inspections worldwide, has banned a leading American inspector from operating in China because of a conflict of interest that strikes at the heart of the organics’ guarantee. The federal agency also plans to send an audit team to China this year to broadly review the certification process.

“Federal officials say the banned inspector, the Organic Crop Improvement Association, used employees of a Chinese government agency to inspect state-controlled farms and food processing facilities. The group, based in Nebraska and known by the initials O.C.I.A., has for years been one of the leading inspectors of Chinese organics for the United States market. Anticipating the department’s action, the group shut most of its operations last year.

“The ban, to be formally announced on Monday, is likely to propel consumer worries about organic food from a country that many associate with food safety scandals and lax regulation, involving things like contaminated milk and toys coated in lead paint.”

• The Associated Press reports that “Casey's General Stores Inc. has sued Alimentation Couche-Tard, saying the Canadian company violated U.S. securities laws by manipulating Casey's stock price during a takeover effort.”

Casey’s General Stores has recommend that its shareholders reject a hostile acquisition bid of $1.9 billion that has been tendered by Canadian c-store giant Alimentation Couche Tard, saying that the Couche-Tard offer is too low.

According to the story, “Casey's complaint, filed in U.S District court in Iowa, alleges Couche-Tard bought nearly 2 million shares of Casey's stock then announced its latest offer and sold the shares at a higher price on the same day. Casey's claims Couche-Tard manipulated the market by profiting from its own announcement and artificially depressing the run-up in stock price that typically follows the announcement of a takeover bid.”

Couche-Tard said the charges have no merit, and continued to maintain that its offer is fair.

• Burger King announced Friday that its fast food restaurants are running out of ribs, and that its pork rib promotion may have to be ended sooner than expected because of the item’s popularity. The company said that it has sold 10 million ribs since May 24.
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