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Ajax: how to achieve

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I have a webPage which dynamically loads list of food items for a particular date. (name of the item have been changed)
I did that by using AJAX with Strut.
Now I have a new requirement which needs to populate the food item list when any of day, month, year field changes but before loading it in the drop down menu, I need to check if the user selected item is already in the new list them keep the same selection in the drop down menu.

I am not sure how to achieve this.
I have a JSP which calls the Action class which gets the data from the Database and build the URL and send it back to JSP. The JSP has code to iterate through the response XML and populate the list. But on which form do I need to set the already selected food item if it exists in current list?

Don't get me started about those stupid light bulbs.
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