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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

But Methods Probed by FTC

SPARKS, Maryland -- The world's largest spice maker, McCormick and Co. Inc., said last week that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating one of its marketing practices.

At issue is whether McCormick's use of exclusivity clauses in some contracts represents an unfair method of competition. Under the clauses, McCormick pays the retailer to carry only its products.

McCormick said the FTC hasn't found any wrongdoing, and defended the practice as "appropriate and not an unfair method of competition."

The FTC declined comment on the civil investigation, saying such information is confidential.

Robert Lawless, president and CEO of McCormick, said that because of increasing competition, the company decided to use the word "exclusive'' as a safeguard in a small percentage of its hundreds of contracts.