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News in brief

February 28, 2019 at 1:55 a.m.

Food-labeling bill clears House panel

A House committee on Wednesday gave a do-pass recommendation to House Bill 1407, which would require "truth in labeling" on food products marketed as beef, pork, poultry and rice.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm preaching to the choir, but you're going to get the full sermon today anyway," Rep. David Hillman, R-Almyra, the bill's sponsor, told members of the House Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee.

Hillman on Wednesday took particular aim at products called "cauliflower rice" and plant-based "meats."

"Cauliflower rice," he said. "There's not a grain of rice in it. If it's cauliflower, call it cauliflower. If it looks like rice, say it looks like rice, but don't call it rice."

Hillman said his bill wouldn't ban those products, most of which aren't yet on the market, but instead would require that labels be accurate.

"It'a consumer's-choice bill," said Cody Burkham of the Arkansas Cattlemen's Association. "Our products have been held to higher standards for decades. Their products should be, too. You cannot have a ribeye without the rib."

No one spoke against the bill, which now goes to the full House.

-- Stephen Steed

Israeli tech startup acquired by Walmart

Walmart Inc. has acquired Israeli tech startup Aspectiva, the Bentonville retailer said this week. It did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Aspectiva uses artificial intelligence to analyze consumers' product reviews and extract insights to help shoppers make purchasing decisions, the company's website said.

The acquisition will join Store No. 8, Walmart's incubator for companies developing retail innovations using emerging technologies. Founded in 2017, Store No. 8's portfolio of companies also includes Jetblack, Franklin and Spatial&.

Store No. 8's companies operate as stand-alone startups but have access to Walmart's strategic and intellectual resources, the incubator's website said. Store No. 8 operates from offices in Bentonville; San Bruno, Calif.; and Hoboken, N.J.

-- Serenah McKay

Index ends at 420.45 after decline of 0.59

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, slipped 0.59 to 420.45 Wednesday.

"Equities traded lower in early trading over concerns of rising tensions between India and Pakistan along with congressional testimony by U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, regarding U.S. and Chinese trade relations," said Leon Lants, managing director at Stephens Inc. in Little Rock.

The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.

Business on 02/28/2019

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