The investigation into the accounting practices of Ahold’s US Foodservice has widened, with the Securities and Exchange Commission contacting several major US food manufacturers for information.

US food companies Kraft, General Mills and Heinz all say they have been contacted by US regulators regarding dealings with Dutch retailer Ahold’s US food distribution business. All three companies say they are giving their full cooperation to the investigation.

The SEC is investigating US Foodservice after it revealed that accounting irregularities had led to its 2001 and 2002 earnings being overstated by at least US$500m.

A spokesman for ketchup maker Heinz said that both the SEC and the US Justice Department had requested documents from the company.

“This is a government investigation of a third party, and it’s inappropriate for Heinz to comment further,” the spokesman told Reuters.

Earlier in the week US food companies Sara Lee and ConAgra Foods issued statements denying any improprieties in their business relationship with US Foodservice, after media reports claimed officials were investigating allegations that the Ahold unit had colluded with some of its suppliers to inflate income.

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By GlobalData

Sara Lee said last week it had not been contacted by the SEC, while ConAgra has said only that it is aware of the investigation.

A spokeswoman for cereal maker Kellogg told Reuters the company has not been contacted by the SEC regarding Ahold, and a spokeswoman for Campbell Soup declined to comment on whether regulators had contacted the soup maker.