Chicago-based Altus Food Co, an independent company established two years ago through a joint venture between US food giant Quaker Oats' and Swiss health-care giant Novartis has been closed down. Altus was formed to develop a range of "functional foods", including cholesterol-reducing cereals and female-orientated snack bars, but the companies admitted last week that the venture was sidetracked by their new priorities before its business plan was fully developed.