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Bakery Accused of Flouting Consent Decree

April 14, 1999|Bloomberg News

The Justice Department has accused Interstate Bakeries Corp., baker of Wonder and other brands of white bread and of Hostess snack cakes, of flouting a consent decree that allowed it to acquire Continental Baking Co. from Ralston Purina Co. in 1995. The government initially opposed the acquisition because Interstate and Continental were two of the three largest U.S. bakers of white bread. The government accused Kansas City, Mo.-based Interstate of trying to revoke a license that it had assigned in 1986 to Four-S Baking Co. that let Four-S produce and sell Weber's bread in Southern California. The consent decree required that the license be perpetual and royalty-free, the department said. The consent decree was entered as a court order requiring Interstate to sell either its own or Continental's white bread brands in five markets. The Justice Department charged that Interstate has demanded that Four-S, now owned by Bimbo Bakeries USA Inc., return the formulas and production processes for baking Weber's bread. Interstate was also accused of threatening to sue Four-S. Interstate officials were not available for comment. The department sought an order from a federal judge in Chicago that would fine Interstate each day it is in violation of any decision the court enters to force compliance with the consent decree.

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