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Food companies debate nutrition standards

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WASHINGTON — A special interest group representing school nutritionists and backed financially by big food companies — including six from Minnesota — is pushing legislation that would allow school districts to bypass new lunch rules restricting sodium and requiring more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

The Minnesota companies — Schwan’s, General Mills, Cargill, Land O’Lakes, Hormel and Michael Foods — have officially stayed neutral on the issue, taking no position on the dispute on Capitol Hill. Some companies, such as General Mills, say they already are working on products that would conform to the new standards.

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