Business news digest


Quaker Steak & Lube featured on Travel Channel

SHARON, Pa. — Quaker Steak & Lube will be featured on the Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food” at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Host Adam Richman will be taking on the Atomic Wing Challenge.

The show features select cities with the toughest food challenges. Quaker Steak challenges Richman with its atomic wings, which require the eater to sign a release form.

The Sharon-based chain has 30 restaurants in 12 states.


Toyota delays start of production at Miss. plant

NEW YORK — Toyota Motor Corp. is delaying the start of production at its plant in Blue Springs, Miss., indefinitely as the top Japanese automaker copes with the downturn in the auto industry.

The plant was scheduled to begin production in 2010 and make the Prius hybrid.

Mike Goss, a spokesman for Toyota’s U.S. arm, said Monday that the plant’s construction is about 90 percent complete, and Toyota will finish the building.

However, the installation of the factory’s equipment and machinery — “the most time-consuming” element of construction, he said — is delayed indefinitely.

Coca-Cola to sell products with stevia sweetener

NEW YORK — Coca-Cola Co. will begin selling products made with a new zero-calorie sweetener despite no official nod from the government, but rival PepsiCo Inc. said Monday it won’t follow suit.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to determine that sweetener made from the herb stevia is “generally regarded as safe,” but the agency’s sign-off has taken longer than expected.

PepsiCo has two drinks made with stevia ready for market: a version of SoBe LifeWater and Trop 50, an orange juice product. But Chief Executive Indra Nooyi said PepsiCo won’t begin selling the drinks until the FDA makes its official decision.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola is expected this week to begin selling three flavors of an Odwalla juice drink sweetened with stevia, The Wall Street Journal reports.

A spokesman for Coca-Cola declined to comment.

National Lampoon execs accused of securities fraud

PHILADELPHIA — The CEO and other executives at National Lampoon Inc. tried to artificially inflate the company’s stock price by paying people to buy shares, federal prosecutors said Monday.

CEO Daniel Laikin and six others were charged with conspiracy and securities fraud for reputedly manipulating the stock price of Los Angeles-based National Lampoon, the publicly traded company that owns the rights to the “Vacation” and “Animal House” series of films.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia and the Securities and Exchange Commission said the kickbacks were paid to people to buy and hold the company’s stock, creating the illusion of market interest.

To make the purchases seem more legitimate, the stock buys were timed to coincide with company news releases, prosecutors said.

Mattel settles with states over lead-tainted toys

NEW YORK — Toy maker Mattel Inc. will pay $12 million to 39 states, including Ohio, to settle an investigation over Chinese-made lead-tainted toys shipped to the U.S. in 2007, state officials said Monday.

Mattel and its Fisher Price unit recalled more than 21 million Chinese-made toys last year, beginning in August, fearing the items were tainted with lead paint and tiny magnets that children could accidentally swallow.

Ohio will get $533,000, officials said.

From Vindicator staff and wire reports

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