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Top Stories for 9/19/14

CA Adopts New Olive Oil Standards

California has approved new olive oil quality standards. Most of the standards proposed by the Olive Oil Commission of California were adopted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The rules will apply to olive oil producers within the state making 5,000 gallons or more a year. About 100 olive growers and a dozen millers will fall under the requirement. Importers are wary that the standards will lead to market restrictions in the future. Nearly all of the 293,000 metric tons of olive oil consumed in the U.S. in 2013 came from Europe. California has helped expand U.S. olive oil production to 10,000 metric tons last year. The new standards will add an enforcement level in California, as well as require new labels for terms such as "light" and "pure." The standards take effect September 26, reports Los Angeles TimesFull Story

OSHA Creates Stricter Reporting Rules

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will start requiring employers to notify the government of an injury sustained at work within 24 hours of the incident, beginning in January. The rule will replace a regulation that required companies to report incidents that led to three or more hospitalizations. Workplace deaths will still be required to be reported within eight hours. The injury data reported will become public on OSHA's website. David Michaels, the head of OSHA and a Department of Labor assistant secretary, hopes that the public information will cause companies to be more careful for fear of embarrassment. Many federal agencies, like the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, are taking these public approaches to increase accountability as people get used to online information, like product reviews, reports Bloomberg BusinessweekFull Story

NH Legislators Consider Bill on Farmstand Storefronts' Retailer Status

The New Hampshire state legislature is looking into writing a bill that would allow multiple farm stands to create storefronts without being considered retail locations. Under current regulations, a permanent location that sells products directly from several farms is treated as a retail store rather than a farm stand, which makes it responsible for multiple fees and restrictions that can be difficult to meet on a farm stand's profit margins. A proposal allowing such operations to exist without being labeled as "retail" was submitted earlier this year, but the state House of Representative's Environment and Agriculture Committee is looking to refine the bill before it is brought to a vote. The proposal will likely be considered when legislators return for their winter session, reports New Hampshire Public Radio. Full Story

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Flavor Name Stirs Controversy

Ben & Jerry’s may change the name of its “Hazed & Confused” ice cream after anti-hazing activists voiced concern that the flavor belittled the problem on college campuses. Management plans to discuss the name at an October global leadership meeting, but a spokesperson said it was not meant to refer to hazing; it is a play on hazelnuts and the phrase “dazed and confused.” The company received a few emails from customers requesting the name be changed and released a statement condemning hazing in response, reports Miami HeraldFull Story

New App Rates Sustainability of Food Products

HowGood launched a mobile app that rates food products on their sustainability, social impact, environmental friendliness and healthfulness that can be used by food co-ops and grocers for a subscription. The database was compiled over seven years and holds around 100,000 products. The data is comprehensive and includes background information such as labor issues where the food was grown and the legally allowed pesticides in different states. HowGood rates the product as "good," "very good" or "great," which makes it easier for shoppers to distinguish why sustainable products are higher priced than other foods. CEO Alexander Gillett has already seen how the ratings affect production. "We have stores that have reached out and are encouraging producers to switch their practices, and using our system as a database to source better products," Gillett says. "That was our initial goal," reports Crain's New York BusinessFull Story

Asia Establishes Eel Fishing Limits

As part of an effort to protect an endangered species, China, South Korea, and Taiwan agreed to reduce eel hauls by 20 percent for a year beginning in November. Japan also agreed to cut purchases of eel fry from neighboring East Asian countries by 20 percent. The countries will take additional measures to limit eel catches, including setting up an organization to coordinate management of the industry. The species have been hurt in the past by barriers along waterways, pollution and changes in ocean conditions, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The eel was also put on the international conservation “red list” because of its very high risk of extinction due to overfishing, reports The Japan TimesFull Story

Beaverton Foods Expands UK Distribution

Beaverton Foods, an 85-year-old specialty condiments manufacturer, is introducing three products to the U.K. marketplace—Extra Hot Jalapeño Mustard, Sweet Hot Mustard and Wasabi Horseradish. These items will join Coney Island Hot Dog and American Picnic mustards (SRP £3.75 UK), which hits shelves last year. All are available through its exclusive importing partner Authentic American Food Company. Domonic Biggi, CEO of Beaverton Foods, says, “We enjoyed early success with last year’s Beaver Brand introductions and now we are offering flavors in response to consumer interest in more intense mustard flavors.” Beaverton Foods is the largest producer of non-refrigerated horseradish and award-winning specialty mustards in the U.S (according to I.R.I., Total U.S. Food, 52 weeks ending Oct. 7, 2012) and it’s the largest Safe Quality Food (SQF) certified processor of authentic wasabi products in North America.

Small Businesses Investing More in Social Media

Small businesses are relying more on social media promotion than traditional advertising venues, according to research firm BIA/Kelsey's annual Local Commerce Monitor report. The online survey conducted in July found that 74.5 percent of the 546 responding companies used social media for business promotion, an increase from 71.7 percent in 2013. They are also spending more to do so, allocating 21.4 percent of their total media budgets compared with the 18.9 percent allocated last year. At the same time, businesses are paying less for print and outdoor advertising: 18.5 percent, compared to 20.9 percent last year, according to the online survey of 546 small and medium businesses, reports Advertising AgeFull Story

ME Chocolatier Gets New Owner

Haven's Candies in Westbrook, Maine, was acquired by Erin Collins, a Freeport, Maine, resident who was in the financial services industry for 15 years. Haven's is almost 100 years old and has two retail locations in Maine, which were opened by the current owner Andy Charles. The company has grown to almost $2 million in annual sales and its stores expanded the company’s wholesale and corporate gifts segments. “It was extremely important to me that I found a buyer—aside from the financial side—a buyer that would honor the history and legacy and be a steward,” Charles says. The retail stores make up a little more than half the company’s sales, while wholesale trade accounts for another third. Its fastest-growing segment is providing chocolate to corporations, such as Intel and HBO. Collins says she plans to grow the corporate gifts segment, but she also looks to focus on existing retail and wholesale customers, reports Portland Press HeraldFull Story

Snack Mix's Success Leads to Startup Dilemma

Buffalo, N.Y., native Mick Fink, owner of It's My Mom's, has a dilemma few lucky startups would eschew: He can't fill the national demand for his only product, Snow Crunch Snack Mix. Among others, Barnes & Noble wants it in its on-campus stores and for its main stores, providing packaging can be more upscale. In addition, a company in Japan wants 50,000 bags. The trouble is Fink the company's sole employee. For now, he's trying to identify long-term strategies and is seeking a business-minded partner willing to help build up a company devoted to producing recipes created by his mom, and the moms of others, reports Upstart Business JournalFull Story

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