FACEBOOK USERS ASKED TO BECOME SALESMEN: Facebook Inc.'s online hangout has proven to be a better place for promoting fun and games than peddling products. But a new application aims to inject more commerce into the social playground by paying Facebook members who help merchants sell to their friends. The program, called Market Lodge, revolves around the notion that consumers are more likely to buy merchandise or services recommended by someone they know and trust. Market Lodge will pay Facebook members a 10 percent commission on all sales made on their recommendations. Facebook members who decide to use Market Lodge can have customized "stores," selecting from more than 1,200 products sold by about 50 merchants. After a personal store is set up, a Facebook user can invite others in the user's network to check out the stuff he or she is recommending.
SICK COWS JOINED FOOD SUPPLY, EXEC SAYS: The head of the Southern California slaughterhouse that produced 143 million pounds of recalled beef acknowledged Wednesday that cows too sick to stand at his plant apparently were forced into the nation's food supply in violation of federal rules. Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. President Steve Mendell made the admission after a congressional panel forced him to watch gruesome undercover video of abuses at his slaughterhouse. Mendell watched red-faced and grim, sometimes resting his head on his hand, as cows were dragged by chains, sprayed in the nostrils with water, shocked and harshly prodded with forklifts to get them into the box where they would be slaughtered. Afterward, Mendell briefly bowed his head, then backed away from claims he'd made in his written testimony that no ill cows from his plant had entered the food supply. So-called "downer" cattle have been barred from the food supply since a mad cow disease scare in 2003 because they pose a higher risk for that disease and other illnesses, partly because they often wallow in feces. Asked about the discrepancy with his written testimony, Mendell said, "I had not seen what I saw here today." He said the Agriculture Department had not shared with him some of the undercover video shot by the Humane Society. But a member of the panel pointed out that the video has been posted on the Humane Society Web site.
WRIGLEY TO REVAMP GUMS: Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. will overhaul the packaging and flavors of its ubiquitous stick gums, including Doublemint, Juicy Fruit, Big Red and Extra brands, as part of an effort to revive sagging U.S. sales. The confectioner announced the makeover Wednesday during its annual shareholders meeting in Chicago, saying the change would help boost the gums' profile among consumers. "This cool new pack will make these brands more contemporary and give them a better presence on the shelf," President and Chief Executive Bill Perez said. Stick gum sales account for about a third of the company's gum revenue. The company says it will transform the bulky packs of foil-wrapped stick gum to a sleek and slim 15-stick envelope. The slim design is similar to the packaging used for 5, the Chicago-based company's newest gum, which launched last year. That product and its packaging were designed to fit easily in a pocket and to attract teens and young adults, who make up about a third of the nation's gum chewers. The company also intends to boost the gums' flavor. Wrigley's new gums will be launched this spring. It also plans to introduce more fruit flavors for its Orbit and Extra lines.
POP SALES SLID FURTHER IN '07: Sales of carbonated soft drinks across the United States slid by a larger margin last year compared with the year before, according to an annual study published Wednesday by Beverage Digest. Sales fell 2.3 percent in 2007, compared with a decline of 0.6 percent in 2006, according to the report. Declines during the past three years compare with roughly 3 percent annual growth in U.S. carbonated soft drink sales in the 1990s. The data include energy drinks, but do not include bottled water, sports drinks and other noncarbonated drinks.
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28: Of dangerous Web sites analyzed (that is sites that cause major damage to personal finances and to computers), the percentage that contained adult content, according to findings by Web of Trust and based on the analysis of 17 million Web sites
27: Percentage that were sites offering free and-or licensed software downloads over the Internet
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