Panera phasing out artificial ingredients

Sandwich chain Panera Bread Co. is now part of an ever more crowded club of companies pledging to remove artificial ingredients from their food. The St. Louis company Tuesday released a list of additives no longer allowed on its menu, updating a promise made a year ago. Just in the past few months, PepsiCo Inc., Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., Dunkin' Donuts and Kraft Foods Group Inc. have all said they would eliminate various synthetic ingredients from products. Meanwhile, McDonald's Corp. and Tyson Foods Inc. said they would phase out the use of chickens treated with human antibiotics. The changes are a response to consumers who increasingly look for fresher food and healthier options, analysts said.

Netflix urges FCC to reject DirecTV deal

Internet video service Netflix is telling the Federal Communications Commission that it should reject AT&T's purchase of satellite TV company DirecTV unless some changes are made. In a letter dated Monday, Netflix said if the deal is completed in its current form, AT&T could decide to hurt online video producers like Netflix and Hulu in order to protect the investment it's making in DirecTV. It could do that by implementing data caps or usage-based pricing that would make Netflix video more expensive to watch, Netflix said, adding that AT&T has already shown it's willing to degrade consumers' access to Netflix streams. AT&T said it won't comment on Netflix's letter and that it's already addressed Netflix's concerns during the review process.

Service sector growth accelerated in April

U.S. service firms' growth accelerated in April, fueled by more orders, rising sales and an uptick in hiring. The figures provide solid evidence that the economy is recovering from its first-quarter stumble. The Institute for Supply Management said its services index rose to 57.8 in April from 56.5 in March. The April reading is its highest level in five months. Any reading over 50 indicates that service providers are expanding. The healthy showing supports analysts' forecasts that the economy's stumble in the first three months of the year will be temporary. Hiring slowed in March and the economy may have even shrunk in the first three months of the year. But most economists expect growth will rebound in the coming months.

A lunch with Buffett up for auction again

Those hoping to sit down to a meal with billionaire Warren Buffett should be prepared to shell out big bucks. Buffett will again auction off a private lunch to raise money for a California homeless charity. Buffett is chairman and CEO of Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway. Bidding for the lunch on eBay will begin May 31 and close June 5. Bidding starts at $25,000. Bidders must prequalify. The annual auction benefits the Glide Foundation, which provides social services to the poor and homeless in San Francisco.

Apple SVP is top-paid U.S. female executive

Angela Ahrendts, Apple's senior vice president of retail and online stores, was the highest-paid female executive in the U.S. last year. The former chief executive of London-based fashion retailer Burberry Group was awarded $82.6 million in 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. Ahrendts, 54, joined the world's most-valuable company in May 2014 and became the first woman on its management team. Ahrendts's pay included a sign-on bonus and a make-whole grant for awards left behind at Burberry. The pay package is currently valued at $105.5 million.

Crop-dusting drone gets federal approval

A drone large enough carry tanks of fertilizers and pesticides has won rare approval from federal authorities to spray crops in the United States, officials said. The drone, called the RMAX, is a remotely piloted helicopter that weighs 207 pounds, said Steve Markofski, a spokesman for Yamaha Corp. U.S.A., which developed the aircraft. Smaller drones weighing a few pounds had already been approved for limited use to take pictures that help farmers identify unhealthy crops. The RMAX is the first time a drone big enough to carry a payload has been approved, Markofski said.

Regulators look into Jeep sun-visor recall

Auto safety regulators are investigating a recall last year of some 895,000 Jeep and Dodge SUVs with sun visors that can short-circuit and ignite after some of them apparently caught fire even after being repaired. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had received eight reports of fires in vehicles whose electrical wiring had been repaired in a recall started by Fiat Chrysler in July, according to a statement on its website announcing a "recall query." There were no reports of injuries.

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