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Rations, bomblets a different color

Food rations
An Iraqi civilian detainee eats a humanitarian ration given to him by U.S. Marines Tuesday, southeast of Baghdad.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- After concerns were raised about the potential of Iraqi children confusing yellow packets of food rations with yellow bomblets being dropped there, the color of all future food rations will be changed, a U.S. official said Thursday.

The official said the wrapping on existing ration packets will not be changed, but future rations will be in an apricot-colored packaging.

The rations are produced by a company contracted by the U.S. Department of Defense, and coalition forces then distribute them to people in Iraq.

The U.N. International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday urged coalition forces to change the color of the rations so that children would not confuse them with bomblets that might explode when opened.

While -- unlike bomblets -- the rations are not being air dropped, UNICEF said, "Children could still confuse the ration and the unexploded ordnance."

A similar situation arose in Afghanistan last year. The military distributed the same type of food rations in that country, which also were the same color as ordnance. The military eventually changed the wrapping of the Afghan rations to blue so as not to confuse civilians.

Bomblets are individual units of cluster bombs and are made of metal. They are shaped like a soft drink can and are packed with high explosives. Cluster bombs contain about 200 small so-called bomblets designed to scatter themselves over a large area, targeting troops and military vehicles.

CNN Producer Vivienne Foley contributed to this report.


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