Current Events in February 2009

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    Another Study Discounts Vitamin Benefits

    Daily vitamin pills show little effect in postmenopausal women

    In a blow to the vitamin supplement industry, another clinical study suggests daily vitamin pills have little effectiveness in fighting off heart disease and cancer. On the heels of a study suggesting vitamins are of little help to men and another study finding that most children don't need supplements, the latest study focuses on postmenopausal women.

    The results of the Women's Health Initiative study, led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, were published in the Feb. 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

    "Dietary supplements are used by more than half of all Americans, who spend more than $20 billion on these products each year. However, scientific data are lacking on the long-term health benefits of supplements," said lead author Marian L. Neuhouser, Ph.D., an associate member of the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center.

    The study focused the effects of multivitamins because they are the most commonly used supplement.

    "To our surprise, we found that multivitamins did not lower the risk of the most common cancers and also had no impact on heart disease," she said.

    The study assessed multivitamin use among nearly 162,000 women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative, one of the largest U.S. prevention studies of its kind designed to address the most common causes of death, disability and impaired quality of life in postmenopausal women. The women were followed for about eight years.

    Nearly half of the study participants 41.5 percent reported using multivitamins on a regular basis. Multivitamin users were more likely to be white, live in the western United States, have a lower body-mass index, be more physically active and have a college degree or higher as compared to non-users. Multivitamin users also were more likely to drink alcohol and less likely to smoke than non-users, and they reported eating more fruits and vegetables and consuming less fat than non-users.

    During the eight-year study period, 9,619 cases of breast, colorectal, endometrial, renal, bladder, stomach, lung or ovarian cancer were reported, as well as 8,751 cardiovascular events and 9,865 deaths. The study found no significant differences in risk of cancer, heart disease or death between the multivitamin users and non-users.

    These findings are consistent with most previously published results regarding the lack of health benefits of multivitamins, Neuhouser said, but this study provides definitive evidence.

    "The Women's Health Initiative is one of the largest studies ever done on diet and health. Thus, because we have such a large and diverse sample size, including women from 40 sites across the nation, our results can be generalized to a healthy population," Neuhouser said.

    Since the study did not include men, Neuhouser cautions that the results may not apply to them.

    So what advice do Neuhouser and colleagues offer to women who want to make sure they're getting optimal nutrition?

    "Get nutrients from food," she said. "Whole foods are better than dietary supplements. Getting a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is particularly important."

    Another Study Discounts Vitamin Benefits...

    Wells Fargo Suit Charges Appraisal Price Gouging

    Hundreds of thousands of homebuyers may have been victimized

    A class action lawsuit alleges that lending giant Wells Fargo profited off an unholy scheme with an appraiser owned by Wells Fargos parent company.

    According to the suit, Wells Fargo requires borrowers to use Rels Valuation, an appraisal service owned by the same company that controls Wells Fargo. In turn, Rels, which uses third-party appraisers to perform the work, forces these vendors to come back with an appraisal that meets Wells Fargos expectations, and pays the appraisers well below market value for their services.

    Despite the bargain that Wells Fargo receives on the appraisals, it continues to charge consumers the full amount for the service, and pockets the difference.

    As described in the suit, Wells Fargos alleged scheme is exceedingly clever and complex. According to the suit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, Wells Fargo pressures subcontracting appraisers to report back with a price that will allow Wells Fargo to underwrite the loan without significant obstacles, regardless of whether the figure is accurate.

    Additionally, Wells Fargo allegedly informs the appraiser that they will pay them drastically less than the going market rate for their services. If the appraiser refuses to comply with either of these conditions, they are placed on Wells Fargos exclusion list, and are not considered for future appraisals.

    Because of Wells Fargos giant stature — it is the number one mortgage lender in the nation — refusal to acquiesce in these demands could mean a drastic drop in appraisers business and significant damage to their reputation.

    Under the rules laid out in the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), no company is allowed to require consumers to use another company, as such arrangements practically invite the kind of price gauging alleged here. However, the Act makes an exception for lenders, since appraisals are ostensibly done to protect their interests, and allowing them to choose a trusted appraiser helps further this purpose.

    Under RESPA, however, when a lender requires the use of a certain appraiser, they must inform the consumer both of the relationship and of the amount they were charged by the appraiser. According to the suit, Wells Fargo sometimes disclosed the relationship between themselves and Rels, but never disclosed the price they paid for the appraisals, giving consumers no indication that they were paying as much as twice what Wells Fargo had for the service.

    The suit estimates that, given Wells Fargos size and influence, tens or even hundreds of thousands of homeowners have been victimized by the scheme.

    It brings claims under both RESPA and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), since the scheme was allegedly carried out across state lines via U.S. mail and interstate wire facilities. The suit also alleges unjust enrichment against Rels and breach of fiduciary duty and unfair competition against Wells Fargo.

    Reader response

    I would like to applaud Jon Hood for his bravery in telling the truth. I would also like to thank whatever Attorney(s) are involved and to lend support for their cause. Our business as honest, ethical appraisers has been derailed by these greedy companies. Did you know the CEO for Wells sat on the recent HVCC comittee to determine policy?

    RC, Colorado Springs, CO

    Wells Fargo Suit Charges Appraisal Price Gouging...

    Judge Orders Feds to Stop Sale of Toxin-Laden Toys

    Safety agency had looked the other way as phthalate-laden toys remained on shelves

    By Truman Lewis
    ConsumerAffairs.com

    February 6, 2009
    A New York federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) must see that toys containing phthalates are removed from stove shelves after a ban takes effect next week.

    The Natural Resources Defense Council and Public Citizen filed suit against the CPSC last December, after the commission created a loophole in the congressionally mandated ban that is effective Feb. 10.

    The loophole would have allowed retailers to stockpile and continue selling dangerous products as long as they were manufactured before the ban's effective date.

    Judge Paul G. Gardephe said the law banning phthalates "provides unequivocally and unambiguously that no covered products may be sold as of Feb. 10, 2009."

    "Its the job of the CPSC to protect us from harmful products, yet they have done the exact opposite in this case — creating legal loopholes where they did not exist," said Aaron Colangelo, NRDC attorney. "Theyve strayed from their basic mandate to protect consumers."

    Toy manufacturers say the ruling will cost them million hundreds of millions of dollars but consumer advocates said children's health is more important than corporate profits.

    "Parents want to know that the toys theyre purchasing are safe — its not too much to ask," said Dr. Sarah Janssen, NRDC scientist. She said the CPSC was "ignoring the will of Congress and threatening our childrens health."

    Phthalates are chemicals used to soften plastics in many common consumer products, including childrens toys. The chemicals are known to interfere with production of the hormone testosterone, and have been associated with reproductive abnormalities.

    Numerous animal studies have linked prenatal exposure to certain phthalates with decreases in testosterone, malformations of the genitalia, and reduced sperm production.

    In response to heightened concern about risks to children from certain harmful phthalates and other chemicals in childrens products, Congress, by an overwhelming majority, passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which was signed into law by President Bush on August 14, 2008. This Act permanently bans the sale, after February 10, 2009, of toys and child care products that contain certain phthalates and lead. The final Senate vote for this ban was 89-3, and the final House vote was 424-1.

    The law passed in the U.S. bans the same six phthalates that have been banned in European toys for nearly 10 years. Other countries, including Argentina, Japan, Israel and Mexico have also banned phthalates from childrens toys. Several major retailers have previously announced that, by the end of 2008, they would remove phthalate-containing toys from their stores.

    Fast action

    The commission — which routinely takes months to respond to even the simplest inquiry from the press and the public — acted quickly when the law firm Arent Fox, on behalf of unidentified corporate clients, asked it to apply the U.S. ban only to the production — and not the sale — of toys with phthalates.

    In a legal opinion published only two business days later, on November 17, 2008, the CPSC General Counsel agreed, saying that manufacturers could stockpile toys and child care products with the banned phthalates right up to the date of the ban, and then sell them to consumers long after the ban was supposed to go into effect.

    "Selling millions of toxic toys to kids is not the way to dispose of them, as the law clearly states," said David Arkush, director of Public Citizens Congress Watch division which, along with NRDC, was heavily involved in lobbying Congress for stronger product safety rules. "Its not only immoral — its illegal. It is horrifying that the federal agency charged with protecting consumers is telling the industry it can dump chemical waste on toy-store shelves."



    Judge Orders Feds to Stop Sale of Toxin-Laden Toys...

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      Gas Prices Creep Toward $2 A Gallon

      Price of gas climbs as oil prices drop; go figure

      Though world oil prices remain low and demand continues to fall, the price of gasoline continues to rise, and is now less than a dime away from $2 a gallon.

      The latest AAA Fuel Gauge Report shows the nationwide average price of unleaded, self-serve regular is $1.91 a gallon. That's up from $1.846 last Friday and is nearly 20 cents a gallon higher than one month ago. However, it's still significantly below the $2.972 average of a year ago.

      Six states Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, New York and Washington remain the only states with average gasoline prices exceeding $2 a gallon.

      Prices are also steadily rising in states where prices have fallen the most. Wyoming continues to have the cheapest gasoline, at $1.603 a gallon. That's up, however, from its average of around $1.49 a gallon at the end of December.

      The average price in Utah is $1.691, and $1.767 a gallon in Oklahoma.

      Oil futures dropped below $40 a barrel in early trading Friday. Anticipating a big jump in the U.S. unemployment rate, traders sent March crude prices down $1.38 to $39.80 a barrel.

      So, why are gasoline prices rising when oil prices are falling? Don't the principles of supply and demand apply here?

      Analysts say they do. They point to seasonal reduction of refinery activity, as well as minor disruptions at specific facilities. In other words, not all of that cheap oil is being turned into gasoline.

      Eventually, however, market principles should swing around to favor the consumer again. Oil producers have been keeping large quantities of crude oil at sea, aboard super tankers, rather than bringing it to market for the current low prices. Eventually, however, those ships will arrive in port.

      Analysts say even with a possible uptick in the economy by mid-year among the most optimistic forecasts there should be plenty of oil, keeping gasoline prices stable, if not cheap.

      Gas Prices Creep Toward $2 A Gallon...

      NY Attorney General Seeks Jail Time for Accused Diploma Peddler

      Long Island man accused of selling fake study courses

      The office of New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo is taking action to jail a Long Island man it says continues to exploit local residents through fake GED home study courses.

      Robert Collins of East Meadow is accused of duping thousands of consumers into enrolling in his fraudulent course, even though multiple court orders had already mandated him to permanently close his business.

      Cuomo is seeking restitution for the victims of this scheme and a 6-month jail sentence for Collins.

      Collins runs two businesses — "Long Island Home Study" and "East End Home Study" — that claim they can award genuine, state-authorized high school equivalency diplomas through an at-home General Education Development (GED) test. His actions have been barred by multiple court orders and judgments since 2005, but he continues to sell fake GED diplomas, according to the attorney general.

      "This man has repeatedly preyed upon Long Island and New York City residents who are simply trying to better themselves and increase their career opportunities," said Cuomo. "Any individual or business that takes advantage of unsuspecting consumers and blatantly ignores court orders will face the consequences."

      Cuomo says Collins repeatedly promised consumers that they would receive diplomas "straight from the Education Department itself" and that the diplomas could be used "to get into any college in the United States."

      Many of the consumers who enrolled in Collins' course were born outside the United States and were not familiar with the educational requirements for a GED. They signed up for the course expecting to obtain diplomas that would help them gain admission to college or trade school. Instead, Cuomo says, they received nothing but worthless "certificates" stating that they had completed Collins' course.

      Under state law, students can earn the New York State High School Equivalency Diploma only by taking and passing the official General Educational Development (GED) examination. Any school offering a GED preparatory course must be licensed by the State Department of Education.

      The test is free and given at centers that have been approved by the State Education Department and the GED Testing Service. The term "GED" is sometimes confused with advertised "General Equivalency Diplomas," but these other credentials, whether obtained through correspondence, on-line, or classroom instruction, are not New York State High School Equivalency Diplomas and are not recognized by the State Education Department.



      NY Attorney General Seeks Jail Time for Accused Diploma Peddler...

      Job Cuts Soar to Seven-Year High

      Retail downsizing pushes planned cuts to nearly 250,000

      The new year came in like a lion, as record downsizing in the retail sector helped push the number of planned job cuts announced in January to 241,749. That is the largest monthly total since January 2002, when job cuts reached an all-time high of 248,475, according to a report released by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

      The January job-cut total was 45 percent higher than the 166,348 cuts announced in December and 222 percent higher than a year ago, when employers announced 74,986 job cuts to begin the year.

      Last month ranks as the second largest January on record and the fourth largest job-cut month since Challenger began its tracking in 1993.

      Historically, January is the heaviest downsizing month. It has been the largest job-cut month of the year seven times between 1993 and 2008. During that period, January job cuts averaged 98,053, 10 percent higher than the 88,892 averaged in October, the next heaviest job-cut month.

      The January surge was due in large part to significant reductions in the retail sector, which is coming off its worst holiday sales season in decades. Retailers announced 53,968 job cuts in January, a record number for the industry and one of the largest one-month job-cut totals for any industry.

      January retail firings surpassed the 2007 year-end total for this sector (51,036) by nearly 3,000 job cuts. Meanwhile, cuts in this industry are less than 28,000 away from surpassing the 2008 year-end total of 81,621.

      The second-ranked industrial goods sector announced 32,083 job cuts last month, followed by computer (22,330), pharmaceutical (22,063), and aerospace/defense (17,800).

      "The variety of industries represented among the top five job-cutting sectors in January is further evidence of how far the impact of this recession has spread," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "Industries that at first appeared to be immune to downturns, such as computer and pharmaceutical are now rapidly shedding workers."

      Challenger notes that even if the stimulus package is successful, it could take months to make a noticeable impact on the employment picture.

      "If there is any bright spot in the latest job-cut data, it is the fact that financial firms announced only 1,458 job cuts in January," he added. "That is the lowest one-month total for that industry since 2005. Whether that is a sign of lower job cuts to come or simply a fluke remains to be seen," said Challenger.

      Job Cuts Soar to Seven-Year High...

      Class Action Filed Over Chase Credit Card Fees

      Bank demands "monthly service fee," higher payments

      A class action filed in January alleges that Chase is forcing its customers to pay a "monthly service fee" and an increased monthly payment, without advance notification.

      The suit concerns Chase's "Balance Transfer Checks," a tool that allows consumers to transfer outstanding balances to their Chase credit cards. The suit alleges that, under the balance transfer program, Chase promised a low annual percentage rate (APR) — typically between 2.99% and 4.99% — not subject to change for the life of the balance.

      Beginning in January, however, Chase began slapping a $10 monthly "service fee" onto customers' bills. Consumers who refused to pay found their APR raised, sometimes to as high as 7.99%. Moreover, Chase asserts the right to again unilaterally raise the rate again after a year.

      According to the suit, filed in federal court in California, neither the possibility of a monthly fee nor an arbitrary APR increase was mentioned in the cardholder agreement that customers signed when they first received the card. Although the agreement provides for APR increases in certain circumstances — for example, if the customer misses a payment or fails to maintain a certain balance — members of the class had their rates raised despite having met all of their obligations.

      The suit further claims that customers who call Chase to inquire about the fee are given no information whatsoever, either as to the purpose of the charge or how it is calculated. The only way for customers to avoid paying the charge is to agree to the APR increase.

      The practice is especially damaging to consumers given the nature of the balance transfer program, which is aimed at those who are struggling to pay existing balances on other credit cards, usually at a higher interest rate than that promised by Chase. As described on Chase's website, balance transfer cards are "a great way to simplify your finances. Plus, you can often save money on interest charges if you carry a large balance on a credit card with a higher rate."

      Many affected consumers are finding themselves right back where they started when they signed up, or worse. Calvin G. of Brookings, SD says: "I was finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but it just got a little darker again. I find this practice of theirs a total sham, especially to card members who are in good standing. Told the customer rep that I guess they can pretty much do whatever they want and she had no response."

      The lawsuit alleges several counts, including violations of the Truth in Lending Act, which requires lenders to clearly spell out terms and conditions in the initial agreement; breach of contract; and unfair competition.

      Class Action Filed Over Chase Credit Card Fees...

      R-SYS Bicycle Wheel Rims Recalled

      February 4, 2009
      Mavic USA is recalling about 12,000 bicycles with R-SYS wheel rims.

      The spokes on the bicycle's front wheel rim can break during use, posing a fall and crash hazard to riders. Mavic USA has received one report of an injury involving broken teeth.

      This recall includes R-SYS and R-SYS Premium front wheel rims. They were sold as original equipment on various bicycle brands and were also sold separately. R-SYS wheel rims are designed for road bikes. "R-SYS" is printed on the front rim of the wheels. The rims are 22mm in diameter, with 16 tubular, unidirectional carbon spokes.

      The wheel rims were sold at specialty bicycle retailers from May 2007 through December 2008 for between $700 and $750 for the front wheel of the two-wheel set when sold separately from the bicycle. They were made in France.

      Consumers should stop using bicycles with the recalled front wheel rims and contact their bicycle retailer for a free replacement front rim.

      For additional information, contact Mavic USA at (800) 664-9228 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's Web site at www.mavic.com.

      The recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

      R-SYS Bicycle Wheel Rims Recalled...

      California, Feds Sue Over Generic Testosterone

      Companies accused of monopolizing supplement sales


      The state of California and the Federal Trade Commission have filed an antitrust lawsuit against four pharmaceutical companies that conspired to monopolize the sale of a testosterone supplement in a "predatory move" to reap huge profits at the expense of consumers.

      "The companies plotted to keep cheap generic drugs off the market, costing consumers millions," said California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. "This was a predatory move pure and simple, increasing drug company profits at the expense of critically ill patients."

      Testosterone supplements like AndroGel can prevent muscle loss, fatigue or erectile dysfunction in critically ill patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and advanced age.

      The lawsuit contends that Solvay Pharmaceuticals illegally colluded with three other pharmaceutical companies — Watson, Par and Paddock Laboratories — to keep the three companies from producing generic alternatives to its testosterone supplement.

      In return, the suit charges Solvay agreed to pay Watson and the other companies millions of dollars over several years. With this agreement, the drug companies sought to protect the monopoly position of AndroGel, forcing consumers to pay artificially high prices for the drug while the companies shared the extraordinary profits, according to the complaint.

      Solvay Pharmaceuticals manufactures and distributes a testosterone supplement called AndroGel with annual sales exceeding $400 million in 2007.

      In 2003, Watson Pharmaceuticals and Par Pharmaceutical Companies, Solvay's competitors, sought approval from the Food and Drug Administration to make and sell generic versions of AndroGel. These companies received final approval from the FDA. If they had begun to sell generic alternatives, Solvay would have seen a significant reduction in its profits from AndroGel sales.

      Typically, when generic alternatives are introduced in the market, the prices of brand name drugs are reduced by 50 percent to 80% percent The price for AndroGel is $225.01 for a box of 150 individual units.

      Without generics on the market, consumers and health insurance programs must pay more for branded medications. Pharmaceutical monopolies cost the state, its citizens and private insurers millions of dollars each year.

      Brown and the FTC filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles against the following pharmaceutical companies:

      • Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

      • Paddock Laboratories, Inc.

      • Par Pharmaceutical Companies, Inc.

      • Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

      The lawsuit charges that Solvay and the three pharmaceutical companies violated U.S. and California antitrust laws and laws banning unfair competition. The lawsuit seeks to:

      • Declare the agreements between Solvay, Paddock, Par and Watson illegal and void.

      • Permanently enjoin the defendants from similar and related conduct in the future.

      • Fine the defendants $2500 for each prescription and user of AndroGel in California under the California Unfair Competition Act.

      More Scam Alerts ...

      The lawsuit charges that Solvay and the three pharmaceutical companies violated U.S. and California antitrust laws and laws banning unfair competition....

      Auto Warranty Solicitations Plague Consumers

      Telemarketing calls may be bogus, BBB warns


      The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be extremely wary of telemarketing calls and mailers which claim their auto warranty has or is about to expire.

      BBB advises that the deceptive solicitations could persuade car owners to purchase an extended auto service contract of questionable value.

      BBB has seen a considerable spike in both complaints and inquiries from consumers who state that they received misleading mailers or high-pressure telemarketing calls claiming their auto warranty was about to expire.

      Complaints against Auto Warranty Processing Services rose by more than 40 percent over the prior year. In 2008, more than 140,000 consumers across the country contacted their BBB to confirm the legitimacy of companies claiming to sell auto warranties.

      As an outgrowth of our countrys economic troubles, and to some extent problems in the auto industry, BBB is hearing from consumers nationwide who are being bombarded by telemarketers and mailers trying to scare them into thinking their auto warranty is about to expire and if they dont sign-up now the offer expires, said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson.

      Not only are these telemarketers lying about the consumers coverage, they are potentially ignoring federal laws such as the Do-Not-Call registry.

      BBB has received complaints from consumers across North America who were informed that their car warranty was about to expire, when such was not the case, and that they needed to take immediate action in order to avoid a lapse in coverage.

      BBB research shows that the consumer is actually being sold an extended service contract and despite the impression given, the offer is not associated with the car manufacturers warranty.

      The value of the various extended service contracts being sold also has been called into question, as many consumers complained that the contract had numerous conditions that might be difficult to meet.

      For instance, pre-existing conditions often are not covered, proof of maintenance records may be required and restrictions on authorized repair facilities and repair charges must receive prior approval making many of these contracts virtually worthless. Others report difficulty in obtaining refunds.

      BBB offers the following advice for dealing with a firm selling extended auto service contracts:

      • Never give personal information, including Social Security, bank or credit card numbers, over the phone to an unknown telemarketer.

      • When considering an extended service contract or any other type of telephone solicitation, insist on getting a contract in which all terms and conditions are clearly explained before signing up or providing credit card or other payment information.

      • Read your auto manufacturers warranty and contact your dealer or manufacturer so that you are not purchasing duplicate coverage.

      • Before purchasing extended warranty coverage, consumers should always check the company out first with BBB at www.bbb.org and review the consumer complaints in the ConsumerAffairs.com Extended Warranty section.

      • Consumers can place their phone number on the federal do not call list by visiting www.donotcall.gov. If the consumer is already on the list but continues to receive telemarketing calls, he or she can use the same Web site to report the incident to the FTC.

      More Scam Alerts ...

      The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be extremely wary of telemarketing calls and mailers which claim their auto warranty has or is about to...

      Job Hunters: Beware of Rebate-Processing Scams

      Tough economy raises interset in work-at-home jobs


      The Better Business Bureau is warning job hunters to beware of opportunities to work from home processing rebates.

      While the job offer may claim that people can earn up to a thousand dollars a day without leaving the comfort of their home, BBB has received hundreds of complaints from victims nationwide who never earned a dime and were, in fact, ripped off for hundreds of dollars in upfront fees.

      With the nations unemployment rate expected to hit a 25-year high in early 2009, work-at-home Web sites which promise big money for little or no experience are extremely tempting in the best of times. But now, with so many cash strapped families, theyre especially appealing.

      In 2008 alone, more than one million people checked with their BBB about the legitimacy of companies that offer work-at-home jobs. Unfortunately, BBB warns that most work-at-home opportunities, such as supposed rebate processing jobs, are ultimately scams.

      With the nations unemployment rate hitting double digits in some states, more families are desperately searching for ways to bring in income and these rebate processing scams lure them in with promises of big money for little work or no experience, said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson. No one ever wants to lose money, but in these hard times, job hunters are getting scammed when they can least afford it.

      According to complaints on file and research conducted by the Los Angeles Better Business Bureau and the BBB serving Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas, the larger offenders which have racked up hundreds of complaints from consumers nationwide operate under such names as Angel Stevens and Cindy Dalton with Web addresses including www.processathome.com and www.rebateprocessorjobs.com. While the names might be different, the scam remains the same.

      Victims stated that they paid an upfront fee anywhere from $40 to over $500 for a trial program earning money by processing rebates from home. By representing that the opportunity is affiliated with 11,000 companies including some household names like Hewlett Packard and Home Depot, complainants are deceived into thinking that the offer is legitimate.

      Instead of guidance and a starter kit on processing rebates, victims report that they actually received instructions on how to make money by sending e-mails, posting blogs and paying for ads on the Internet in order to sell various products.

      The products being sold are marketed with a rebate and the victim allegedly makes money by receiving a percentage of sales for any products sold as a result of the ads they placed.

      Adding insult to injury, recent complainants state that after paying the initial fee of $359, they find that their credit card or checking account is charged each month thereafter for $59. The charges continue even though the victims cancel and demand refunds, said Gary Almond, Vice President of the Los Angeles BBB.

      Complainants allege that they are victims of misleading advertising and demand their money back. A few complainants who decided to try placing Internet ads to earn money became dissatisfied after spending even more money on ads and additional training, but still failed to make the amount advertised.

      The marketing language on rebate processing Web sites makes the offer sound risk-free and usually advertises a "90 day money back guarantee" or 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, but complainants state that the companies failed to honor the guarantee. If they respond to requests for refunds at all, its usually with an excuse for not making the refund.

      BBB offers the following advice to help job hunters avoid being taken by a work-at-home scam:

      • Beware of offers that sound too good to be true including the promise of big bucks for little work or no experience.

      • Always check out the companys BBB Reliability Report for free at www.bbb.org to see if the company has received a passing grade from BBB.

      • Never give your credit card or checking account information to an individual or business that promises employment. Legitimate employers never charge fees to prospective employees. Period.

      More Scam Alerts ...

      BBB has received hundreds of complaints from victims nationwide who never earned a dime and were, in fact, ripped off for hundreds of dollars in upfront fe...

      Study: Americans Take Unnecessary Risks

      Even small changes in behavior can save lives

      Some 48 percent of Americans don't have a carbon-monoxide detector at home, 24 percent sometimes fail to fasten a seatbelt, and 39 percent often eat raw dough when making cookies, according to a nationally representative poll of 1,000 Americans conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

      This is the second part of a two-part series that looks at risky behavior. The first half was published in the February 2009 issue of Consumer Reports.

      The poll reveals what behaviors Americans do which they probably shouldn't, including:

      • Occasionally using the top step of a ladder (31 percent).

      • Sometimes having a beer while using a power tool or mower (13 percent).

      • Letting their kids play on a trampoline (43 percent)

      Also, the survey shows what behaviors Americans don't do that they probably should, including:

      • Having a rubber mat in the tub or shower (61 percent don't)

      • Changing batteries in smoke alarms yearly (21 percent don't)

      • Eating burgers only well done (32 percent don't)

      The results are revealing because these behaviors can cause real harm, according to safety experts at Consumer Reports and elsewhere.

      According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, safety belts saved 15,147 lives in 2007.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that carbon-monoxide poisoning claims almost 500 lives in the U.S. each year.

      The CDC notes that a common cause of food-borne salmonella infections is under-cooked or raw eggs, often found in cookie dough. Salmonellosis causes an estimated 1.4 million cases of food-borne illness and more than 500 deaths annually in the United States.

      Based on Consumer Reports' analysis of Consumer Product Safety Commission data, more than 105,000 hospital-treated injuries in the U.S. in 2007 were linked to trampolines.

      The poll revealed men were slightly more likely than women to let children play on a trampoline, and women were more apt to eat burgers well done, fasten their safety belt religiously, and clean lint from the dryer after each use. Respondents ages 18 to 35 were more likely than older folks to eat raw cookie dough; those 55 and older were more likely to have a rubber mat in the tub or shower.

      The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a random-digit-dialing telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households. In all, 1,000 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+. Interviews took place in October 2008. The margin of error is +/- 3% points at a confidence level of 95 percent.

      The full report on how often Americans take risks is available in the March 2009 issue of Consumer Reports, on sale February 3 and online at www.ConsumerReports.org.

      Study: Americans Take Unnecessary Risks...

      Pricey Pet Food Not Necessarily Better

      Consumer Reports advises consumers about what to look for on pet-food labels

      When it comes to buying pet food, higher cost doesn't always mean higher quality. A higher price could indicate better ingredients and better quality control during and after manufacturing, but it could also just mean prettier packaging, more marketing, or a fancy name.

      And despite food safety concerns that resulted from a recall of pet food tainted with melamine in 2007, Consumer Reports urges caution for consumers who are considering making their own pet food, a growing trend.

      Consumer Reports asked eight experts in dog and cat nutrition at seven top veterinary schools what consumers get by spending more for pet food. They were also asked what they served their own pets: Most of the experts said they use a variety of common brands sold at pet stores or supermarkets.

      A recent survey by the Associated Press found that although Americans may be spending less on themselves, they're not scrimping on their pets. According to the survey, just one in seven pet owners said they had curtailed spending on their pet during the past year, even as they cut back on other expenses.

      Thirty-seven percent of U.S. households have dogs, and 32 percent have cats. But because of multi-cat households, felines outnumber canines. As of 2007, there were almost 82 million cats and 72 million dogs.

      The bottom line: It's more important to look for the overall nutrient profile of a particular pet food brand than it is to shop by price or even individual ingredients. "As a pet owner, your main goal is to ensure that your animal is active and healthy," says Jamie Hirsh, associate health editor at Consumer Reports. "That suggests that the food you're buying is doing its job. But it's also important to know that you don't have to choose the most expensive food to get what's best for your pet. Look for food labeled 'complete and balanced,' which indicates it can be the pet's sole nourishment."

      Hirsh advises pet owners to look for labels stating that the food's nutritional adequacy was validated by animal-feeding tests based on protocols from the American Association of Feed Control Officials, a regulatory group. That statement is a step above the other one that AAFCO allows — that a food was formulated to meet the group's nutrient profiles. "In addition, make sure the package has contact information for the food's manufacturer, in case you have questions," Hirsh says.

      Consumers should also take into consideration the age of their pet and whether he or she has special needs. For example, cats with kidney or urinary problems might benefit from the moisture in wet food, while animals with dental issues might do better with dry food.

      What pet food labels really mean

      For pet food, there's no official definition of organic, human-grade, premium, no fillers, or gourmet. Gluten-free foods are generally necessary only for the tiny percentages of pets that are intolerant of that protein. There's some evidence that antioxidants — such as vitamin E — and some omega-3 fatty acids might enhance pets' immunity or help protect against certain diseases, but the experts interviewed by Consumer Reports were split on whether consumers need to look for them.

      Consumer Reports recommends that consumers educate themselves about pet food labeling, which is mostly defined by AAFCO, which sets standards for pet food manufacturing. Here are some examples:

      • The 95 percent rule (Beef for Dogs). Named ingredient(s) must account for a least 95 percent of the product by weight.

      • Dinner; also Entre, Formula, Nuggets, Platter, Recipe (Chicken and Salmon Dinner for Cats). The named ingredients must make up at least 25 percent of the product by weight, not counting water. Each individual food must make up at least 3 percent.

      • "With..." (Gourmet Fillets with Turkey for Dogs). Contains 3 percent or more of the named ingredient.

      • Flavor (Beef flavor). No specific percentage required, but the product must contain enough of the food to impart the claimed flavor, or another substance that tastes like it (beef stock, for example).

      • Guaranteed analysis. Mandatory guarantee that the food contains the labeled percentages of crude protein, fat, fiber, and moisture.

      • Light, lite, low-calorie. Meets AAFCO limits for a reduced-calorie diet for overweight dogs and cats. "Lean" and "low-fat" have a similar meaning for fat.

      • Natural. Technically, the food has few or no synthetic ingredients. But the claim is loosely defined.

      • Grain-free. Protein in the product comes from nongrain sources (perhaps for people who want pets to eat more animal protein). It's unclear whether there's any benefit to a diet high in animal protein.

      What consumers can do

      Consumer Reportsoffers this advice to pet owners:

      Be careful when making your own pet food. Most experts said they hadn't seen a pet get sick from inexpensive food; however, half said they had seen pets become ill from eating homemade pet food, a growing trend since the 2007 recall of some commercial pet food contaminated by melamine. Dogs and cats each require about 40 different nutrients in very specific proportions, so pet owners who insist on making their own pet food should consider enlisting a nutritionist certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (www.acvn.org) or get help from the Web sites www.balanceit.com or www.petdiets.com.

      Consider your pet's age. Age-specific food is very important for puppies, kittens, and pregnant pets, who have especially stringent nutritional needs. Foods labeled either "for growth" or "for all life stages" meet those needs. Foods "for maintenance" are for healthy adult animals only. "Senior" is a marketing term, not a nutritional term.

      Weigh the costs and benefits of wet versus dry food. There's no nutritional difference between wet and dry pet food, but there is a cost difference. Wet foods contain about 75 percent water, so pets need more to get the same calories, and that makes wet food more expensive per serving.

      The full report is available in the March 2009 issue of Consumer Reports and online at www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org.

      Pricey Pet Food Not Necessarily Better...

      Peanut Butter Recall Claims Still More Products

      More than 20 companies added to list

      More than 20 companies recalled cookies, candies, pet treats, and other products over the weekend because they contain peanut butter or paste made by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA).

      That company is linked to the nationwide salmonella outbreak, which has sickened more than 500 people in 43 states and may be related to the deaths of eight others.

      PCA is also the focus of a federal investigation for allegedly shipping peanut products it knew had tested positive for salmonella.

      In recent weeks, food makers across the country have recalled more than 400 types of products in what the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calls the largest food-related recall in memory.

      And the list keeps growing — fueled by PCA's recent decision to expand its recall to include all peanuts and peanut products made at its Georgia facility since 2007.

      Here are some of the latest products companies have recalled in the wake of PCA's expanded recall of peanuts and peanut products:

      Walgreens chocolate candies. The company sold the candies in its stores from January 1, 2007 to Jan. 29, 2009. The recall covers: WALGREENS BRIDGE MIX 3.5 OZ, 4 OZ, 14 OZ and 15 OZ; WALGREENS CHOCOLATE COVERED PEANUTS 3.5 OZ, 4 OZ, 13.5 OZ and 15 OZ; WALGREENS CARAMEL NUT CLUSTERS 3.5 OZ, 4 OZ, 13.5 OZ and 15 OZ; and WALGREENS CHOCOLATE PEANUT CLUSTERS 3.5 OZ and 4 OZ. Customers can return the candies for a full refund. For more information, contact Walgreens at 847-315-2755.

      Kroger Peanut Butter Bakery Cookies and Select Cakes. The company sold the products in 31 states under the following names: Kroger, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, Fry's, King Soopers, Smith's, Dillons, QFC, City Market, Foods Co., Jay C, Scott's, Owen's, Baker's, Gerbes, Hilander and Pay Less. The recall specifically includes all packages of the following Kroger, Store-Brand, and Private Selection store-baked and store-packaged cookies: Peanut Butter Cookies Regular, Jumbo, Decorated, Iced, Gourmet, Mini and Sandwich cookies; Assorted and Variety Bakery Cookies Regular and Jumbo; Private Selection Peanut Chocolate Chunk Cookies; Private Selection Gourmet Variety Cookie Trays. Kroger is also recalling all sizes of the following Private Selection Cakes: Private Selection Chocolate Trio Single-Layer and Double-Layer Iced Cakes. Customers can return these products to the store for a full refund. For more information, contact Kroger's at (800) 632-6900 or check the company's Web site.

      Mountain Man Nut & Fruit Co. products with Honey Roasted Peanuts and Granulated Peanuts. The recall covers: Mountain Man Special Mixed Nuts (All Lots); Mountain Man Sweet Explosion (All Lots); Mountain Man Paddlewheel Mix (All Lots); Mountain Man Honey Roast Peanuts (All Lots); Mountain Man Special Mixed Nut Gift Pack (All 1 lb and 1.75 lb packs); Mountain Man Cherry Hill Supremes (Product purchased prior to August 14, 2008); RiverTrail Sweet & Spicy Mix (All Lots); and RiverTrail Honey Roast Mix (All Lots). The recall, however, does not include any Mountain Man products offered in partnership with Frontier Airlines. Consumers can return the products for a full refund. For more information, contact Mountain Man Nut & Fruit Co. at 1-800-225-0045.

      Six types of Publix Super Markets snacks. The products included in this action are Publix Boston Baked Beans, 10.7oz UPC: 41415-17686-7; Greenwise Organic Ambassador Mix, 6.9oz UPC: 41415-13586-4; Publix Sunburst Mix, 17.1oz UPC: 41415-07186-5; Publix Sweet N Nutty, 35.8oz UPC: 41415-16486-4; Publix Trail Mix with Goji Berries, 7.7oz UPC: 41415-06086-9l; and Publix Spicy Trail Mix, 23.2oz UPC: 41415-07786-7. Consumers can return the products for a full refund. For more information, contact Publix at 1-800-242- 1227 or check the company's Web site.

      Healthy Hide 6" Peanut Butter Filled Shank Bone. The products are made by Salix LLC, a manufacturer of rawhide dog chews, and sold to retailers nationwide. They come in a clear plastic bag with the name Healthy Hide on the front. The package is a 1-count 6" Peanut Butter Filled Shank Bone and has a Universal Product Code of 0-91093-33479-0. All packages are marked with one of the following lot codes: between CP 20081508 and CP 20012209. Consumers can return the products for a full refund.

      The candies were distributed nationwide through retail stores and the company's mail order division and retail store. For more information about this action, or to obtain a refund, contact the Standard Candy Company at 1-800-226-4340.

      The FDA has a complete list of all products recalled in the salmonella outbreak on its Web site. Consumers can check that Web site daily to see if their favorite products are included in any recalls.

      Meanwhile, PCA has halted production at its Georgia plant and says it's working with the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in their investigation of the salmonella outbreak.

      PCA made that decision after the FDA released an inspection report that revealed such unsanitary conditions as roaches and mold at its Georgia plant, and confirmed the company shipped peanut products that had tested positive for salmonella 12 times since 2007.

      That discovery exposed a dirty secret in the food manufacturing industry — companies are not required to disclose internal tests to the FDA or state officials.

      According to the FDA's inspection's report, one of PCA's recent shipments — a batch of peanut paste made on September 25, 2008 — had tested positive for the strain of salmonella linked to the current outbreak: Salmonella Typhimurium.

      Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare cases, it can cause more severe illnesses, including arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.

      PCA's products are not sold directly to consumers. They are distributed to long-term care facilities, universities, food service industries, and private label food companies in the United States, Canada, Haiti, Korea, and Trinidad.

      U.S. food makers, however, use the company's peanut butter and paste to make cookies, crackers, ice cream, energy bars, and other products.

      Some pet food makers also use PCA products. That's why health officials have warned pet owners that salmonella can be transferred to humans who handle these products. Pet owners are advised to wash their hands after they come touch these pet treats.

      Symptoms of salmonella infection in pets include lethargy, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets, however, may have a decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.

      None of the major brands of peanut butter sold on grocery stores shelves are included in any of the current salmonella-peanut butter recalls. The makers of Jif, Skippy, and Peanut Pan peanut butters continue to remind consumers that their products are safe to eat.



      Peanut Butter Recall Claims Still More Products...

      Aetna Agrees to Reimburse Students' Health Insurance Claims

      Settlement with New York covers more than 200 colleges nationwide

      February 2, 2009
      New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an agreement with Aetna, the third-largest health insurer in the country, to reimburse health insurance claims by over 73,000 students at over 200 colleges nationwide.

      Under the agreement, Aetna will pay more than $5 million, plus interest and penalties, for claims involving out-of-network care.

      The agreement resolves an investigation into the use of outdated reimbursement rate information by Aetnas subsidiary, Aetna Student Health, which shortchanged students and doctors across the nation.

      The investigation disclosed that Aetna Student Health underpaid in excess of $5.1 million in student health insurance claims nationwide between 1998 and April 1, 2008. More than $2 million worth of these claims were attributable to almost 21,000 students who attended college in New York State.

      The health plans in question were sponsored by the students colleges, underwritten by Aetna Life Insurance Company and administered by Aetna Student Health, formerly known as Chickering Student Health.

      Health insurers must honor the promises they make to reimburse consumers fairly. Here, students were particularly vulnerable to being cheated because they placed their trust in health care plans sponsored by their colleges. Aetna Student Health broke that trust, said Cuomo.

      Aetna has agreed to pay students or, where appropriate, their doctors, more than $5.1 million for underpayments, plus interest and penalties calculated under governing state law. Late payments in New York are subject to 12 percent interest. The scope of the agreement is nationwide.

      Under the agreement, Aetna will also:

      • update Aetna Student Healths claims processing system within 30 days after receiving new market rate schedules and annually certify when that was done;

      • hire an independent third party examiner to review Aetna Student Healths compliance and training procedures, and improve those procedures based on the examiners recommendations; and

      • provide all employees of Aetna and its subsidiaries enhanced training on reporting compliance issues.

      "At a time when tuition and educational expenses at many colleges and universities are going up, students and parents simply can't afford to overpay for health care," said Charles Bell, programs director for Consumers Union.

      "We are very pleased that Aetna has agreed to refund $5 million to students who were shortchanged on their health insurance claims. This national settlement also establishes strong consumer protections to ensure that students will be fairly reimbursed when they use out-of-network medical services in the future," Bell said.

      Todays agreement is related to a settlement between the Attorney General and Aetna announced on January 15, 2008, in which Aetna agreed to stop using databases operated by UnitedHealth Group, Inc.s subsidiary, Ingenix, Inc., to determine out-of-network reimbursement rates.

      Under that agreement, Aetna agreed to pay $20 million to a qualified nonprofit organization that will establish a new, independent database to help determine fair out-of-network reimbursement rates for consumers throughout the United States.

      Todays agreement concerns the use of outdated schedules from the Ingenix databases to reimburse students. Because the schedules were out of date, they indicated lower reimbursement rates than the students were entitled to. The agreement resolves restitution issues arising from the use of outdated schedules to reimburse students; it does not resolve any other restitution issues arising from the use of the Ingenix database.

      In February 2008, the Attorney General announced an industry-wide investigation into allegations that health insurers unfairly saddle consumers with the cost of out-of-network care.

      At the center of that investigation is Ingenix, the nations largest provider of healthcare billing information, which gathers data from health insurers and creates schedules insurers use to formulate out-of-network reimbursement rates. Ingenix is used by the largest insurers in the country and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH), the nations second largest health insurer. The Attorney Generals office learned of Aetna Student Healths underpayments through the industry-wide investigation.

      Aetna will send notice to all affected individuals with details on securing reimbursements.

      Aetna Agrees to Reimburse Students' Health Insurance Claims...

      Suzuki Recalls GSX Motorcycles

      GSX motorcycles recalled by Suzuki.

      February 2, 2009
      Suzuki is recalling about 26,000 of its GSX-R1000 motorcycles from the 2005-2006 model years.

      Cracking or breakage of the motorcycle frame can occur in certain extreme situations. Repeated hard landings from hazardous maneuvers -- such as extended wheelies or other stunts -- may generate sufficient stress to cause the problem, the company said.

      Dealers will inspect the frame for cracks. If cracks are found, the frame will be replaced. If no cracks are found, a frame reinforcement brace will be attached.

      The campaign began on January 21.

      Owners may contact Suzuki at 1-714-572-1490.

      Consumers may contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY: 1-800-424-9153) or at www.safercar.gov.

      Suzuki Recalls GSX Motorcycles...

      Feds Open Criminal Probe of Peanut Producer

      Massive recall continues; Obama promises tougher food safety oversight

      Federal officials have launched a criminal investigation into the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) -- the company at the heart of the salmonella outbreak -- for allegedly shipping peanut products it knew had tested positive for that bacteria.

      President Obama on Friday also promised tougher oversights of the food safety industry.

      In related action, scores of food makers across the country continue to pull peanut products off store shelves in response PCA's expanded recall, which now includes all peanuts and peanut products made at its Georgia facility since January 1, 2007.

      The company took that action hours after federal officials released an inspection report that revealed unsanitary conditions at the Georgia plant--including roaches and mold - -- and confirmed the company shipped peanut products its knew had tested positive for salmonella.

      According to investigators with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), PCA shipped products that tested positive for various strains of salmonella 12 times since 2007.

      In late 2008, the FDA's inspection revealed, the company shipped products that tested positive for the strain linked the current salmonella outbreak, salmonella Typhimurium.

      Also on Friday, the Associated Press reported that schools, day care facilities, and group homes in three states received potentially tainted peanuts and peanut butter as part of the federal school meal program.

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) previously said the school meal programs were not affected by any of the salmonella-related recalls.

      But USDA officials confirmed that schools, day care centers, and group homes in California, Idaho, and Minnesota received roasted peanuts and peanut butter linked to PCA's expanded recall.

      "A limited number of products were identified as being purchased by USDA during the two-year timeframe and most of the recalled products already have been consumed," according to a statement posted on the USDA's Web site. "The USDA is working with the small number of affected parties to identify recalled product and remove it from distribution. All USDA nutrition assistance program operators are being asked to check for any product that might have been purchased commercially."

      The salmonella outbreak is now blamed for the illnesses of more than 500 people in 43 states and could be linked to the deaths of eight others.

      Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare cases, it can cause more severe illnesses, including arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.

      PCA's products are not sold directly to consumers. They are distributed to long-term care facilities, universities, food service industries, and private label food companies in the United States, Canada, Haiti, Korea, and Trinidad.

      U.S. food makers, however, use the company's peanut butter and paste as ingredients in cookies, crackers, ice cream, energy bars, and other products.

      Some pet food makers also use PCA products. That's why health officials have warned pet owners that salmonella can be transferred to humans who handle these products. Pet owners are advised to wash their hands if they come into contact with these pet treats.

      Symptoms of salmonella infection in pets include lethargy, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets, however, may have a decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.

      In recent weeks, companies have removed more than 400 types of products that contain peanuts or peanut paste from PCA's Georgia facility.

      The Food and Drug Administration calls this one of the largest product recalls in memory.

      And the list of recalled products keeps growing. Here are the latest products companies have recalled because they contain peanuts or peanut paste made by PCA's Georgia's plant:

      Harry and David Olympia Delight Trail Mix The recall includes approximately 30,500 12 oz. bags labeled Olympia Delight Trail Mix and approximately 14,200 5 oz. boxes labeled Olympia Delight Trail Mix. The recalled products were distributed throughout the United States under the Harry & David brand. The bagged product was sold only in Harry and David stores; the boxed product was sold in both Harry and David stores, Barnes and Noble, T.J. Maxx, Marshall's, and HomeGoods stores. The bagged products have a best if used by date of 3/28/08 or later. The UPC code is 780994604896.

      The recalled boxed products are packaged in 5 oz tan colored paperboard boxes. The UPC code is 780994737013 or 780994751262. The company has not received any reports of illnesses linked to these products. Consumers can return the products for a full refund. For more information, contact the company at 800-233-1101, 24 hours a day.

      Kroger Nut topping The topping was sold in 31 states in Kroger, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, Fry's, King Soopers, Smith's, Dillons, QFC, City Market, Foods Co., Jay C, Scott's, Owen's, Baker's, Gerbes, Hilander and Pay Less, grocery stores. The recalled items include: Kroger Nut Topping sold in 2.25-ounce containers with a "Sell by" date of DEC-22-09 and earlier under the following UPC Code Number: 0001111074500.

      Ralphs Nut Topping sold in 2.25-ounce containers with a "Sell by" date of DEC-9-2009 and earlier under the following UPC Code Number: 0001111071444; and Fred Meyer Nut Topping sold in 2.25-ounce containers with a "Sell by" date of DEC-21-09 and earlier under the following UPC Code Number: 0001111074507. There are no reports of illnesses linked to these products. Customers can return them to the store for a full refund. For more information, contact Kroger at (800) 632-6900 or check its www.kroger.com/recalls Web site.

      CLIF and LUNA bars The recall includes the following Clif Bar & Company products: CLIF BAR Crunchy Peanut Butter, BEST BY or SELL BY: 09OCT08 to 31DEC09; CLIF BAR Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch, BEST BY or SELL BY: 09OCT08 to 31DEC09; CLIF BAR Peanut Toffee Buzz, BEST BY or SELL BY: 09OCT08 to 31DEC09; CLIF Builder's Peanut Butter, SELL BY: 20SEP08 to 31DEC09; CLIF Kid Organic ZBaR Peanut Butter, BEST BY: 21OCT08 to 31DEC09.

      LUNA Nutz Over Chocolate, BEST BY: 28OCT08 to 31DEC09; LUNA Peanut Butter Cookie, BEST BY: 28OCT08 to 31DEC09; All MOJO and MOJO Dipped bars, BEST BY: 01SEP07 to 31OCT09. The products were sold in retail stores across the country. To date, none of the recalled products has tested positive for salmonella. For more information -- or a refund customers can contact Clif Bar & Company at 1-888-847-2770 or visit its www.clifbar.com Web site;

      Select Peanut Butter Ice Cream Products made by Perry's Ice Cream: The recalled ice cream products include:

      75767-50030 Perry's Butterscotch Sundae 1.75 QT All Lots 75767-39008
      Perry's Hot Fudge Sundae 8 Oz All Lots 75767-20036 Perry's Hot Fudge Sundae 1.5 QT All Lots 75767-20036
      Perry's Hot Fudge Sundae 1.75 QT All Lots 75767-22504
      Perry's Light No Sugar Added Mexican Sundae 1.75 QT All Lots None
      Perry's Nutty Business 3 GL All Lots 75767-00237
      Perry's Nutty Business 1.75 QT All Lots 75767-57001
      Perry's Nutty Cones 24/4.1fl oz each All Lots 75767-82040
      Perry's Vanilla Nutty Cones 6/4.1fl oz each All Lots None
      Perry's Peanut Butter Swirl 3 GL All Lots None
      Perry's Sabres Top Shelf Sundae 3 GL All Lots 75767-50060
      Perry's Sabres Top Shelf Sundae 1.75 QT All Lots 15400-22251
      Shurfine Heavenly Hash 1.75 QT All Lots 15400-82995 Shurfine Sundae Cones 6/4.1fl oz each All Lots 77890-64182
      Wegmans Heavenly Hash 1.75 QT All Lots 77890-16059
      Wegmans Tin Roof Sundae 1.75 QT All Lots 77890-97864
      Wegmans Sundae Cones 6/3.8fl oz each All Lots 42704-00319
      Cumberland Farms Hot Fudge Sundae 1.75 QT All Lots 42704-00314
      Cumberland Farms Caf Coffee Fudge 1.75 QT Nov 12, 2009 only 50711-10124
      Baldwin Peanut Butter Cup 1.75 QT All Lots

      The company distributed the products in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Florida, Illinois and Indiana. There are no reports of illnesses linked to these products. For more information, contact the company at 1-800-873-7797 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday EST.

      Blue Bunny Personals Bunny Tracks The product was sold in 8 fl oz. containers in retail stores and on the foodservice levels and includes Lot Number 80030 "Best Used By" date 11/17/2009. The product was shipped to Virginia, Iowa, Ohio, Nebraska, Washington, Tennessee, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Oregon. Consumers can return the product to the store for a full refund. For more information, contact Wells' Dairy at 1-800-331-0830.

      Lesserevil Peanut Butter and Choco Kettle Corn LesserEvil distributed the product nationwide and exported it to Japan and Canada. The recalled products distributed in the U.S. and Japan have a UPC of 180999000356. The UPC for the Canadian product is 180999000516. The product comes in a 3.65 oz bag. LesserEvil sells the product through distributors to grocery and specialty stores and on the Internet. The products were also included in some gift baskets. Consumers can return the products for a full refund. For more information, contact the company at (914-779-3000 ext 5) or check its www.lesserevil.com Web site

      Hannaford Denali Nutty Moose Tracks ice cream. The ice cream was sold in Hannaford Stores in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York and Sweetbay Stores in Florida. The product is packed in 56 (UPC# 41268 15394) and 16 (UPC# 41268 15447) fluid ounce paper containers stamped date code prior to 09028.

      Consumers can return the ice cream for a full refund. For more information, contact House of Flavors at 1-800-930-7740 x 2229, M-F from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST;

      Six ice cream and frozen yogurt products by Turkey Hill Dairy: The recalled products are:

      Turkey Hill Tin Roof Sundae Premium Ice Cream Container Size: 1.5 Quarts UPC Code: 0-20735-11013-3 From Sell By Code: 08/09/2009 to 01/20/2010
      Turkey Hill Chocolate Nutty Moose Tracks Stuff'd Container Size: Pint UPC Code: 0-20735-42080-5 From Sell By Code: 10/09/2009 to 01/19/2010
      Turkey Hill Chocolate Nutty Moose Tracks Light Recipe Ice Cream Container Size: 1.5 Quarts UPC Code: 0-20735-12122-1 From Sell By Code: 08/05/2009 to 01/06/2010
      Turkey Hill Nutty Caramel Caribou Frozen Yogurt Container Size: 1.5 Quarts UPC Code: 0-20735-12505-2 From Sell By Code: 11/25/2009 to 12/19/2009
      Turkey Hill Peanut Brittle No Sugar Added Recipe Ice Cream Container Size: 1.5 Quarts UPC Code: 0-20735-13506-8 From Sell By Code: 01/01/2008 to 12/12/2009
      Turkey Hill Peanut Butter Mania Light Recipe Ice Cream Container Size: 1.5 Quarts UPC Code: 0-20735-12116-0 From Sell By Code: 01/01/2008 to 01/06/2010

      The products are sold in retail stores in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, DC and West Virginia. Consumers can return the products for a full refund. For more information, contact the company at 1-800-MY-DAIRY (1-800-693-2479) or send an e-mail to crela@turkeyhill.com.

      NutriSystem Peanut Butter Breakfast Granola Bar The company distributed the granola bars directly to customers in the United States and Canada through its Web site or call center sales. The products included in this action are: PEANUT BUTTER GRANOLA BAR 6 32674 32016 2 1.41 oz (40 g) Flexible Film TC08158A, TC 08188A, TC09158A, TC09168A, TC09178A, TC11148A, TC11178A, TC03198A, TC04178A, TC05128A, TC05148A, TC05158A, TC05168A, TC06028A, TC06108A, TC06128A, TC06138A, TC06168A, TC06178A, TC07038A, TC07078A, TC07088A. TC08148A, TC09118A

      PEANUT BUTTER GRANOLA BAR / BARRE GRANOLA AU BEURRE D'ARACHIDE 6 32674 37016 7 40g Flexible Film TC03198A

      NutriSystem has not received any reports of illnesses linked to these products. Customers who would like a replacement bar should e-mail the company at PBbar@Nutrisystem.com. NutriSystem, however, previously told ConsumerAffairs.com that it would issue refunds to customers who had recalled products.

      Arico Peanut Butter Cookies and Cookie Bars The recalled products were sold in health food and grocery stores throughout US and Canada. The products included in this action are: Arico Peanut Butter Cookies (4.76 oz stand-up pouch with UPC 1 82363 00022 1), Sell-by dates of "080309" and "100509" Date code is printed on the top, front, left of each pouch OR on the case label as 08/03/09 and 10/05/09; and Arico Peanut Butter Cookie Bars (1.4 oz with UPC 1 82363 00006 1) Sell-by date of AUG0409; M03098 Date code is printed on the middle, back of individual bar wrapper OR on the case label as 08/04/09. The company made a one-time purchase of organic peanut butter from PCA. It has stopped using PCA as a supplier. The company has not received any reports of illnesses linked to these products. For more information or to request a refund -- customers should contact the company at 866-98-ARICO (27426) ext. 2.

      Chef Pierre Chocolate Peanut Butter Silk Pie from Sara Lee The recalled product was sold frozen--with four package pies in each case -- in a 34 ounce package. It has a UPC code of 3210005095. The product was sold and distributed nationally to foodservice companies and to consumers through Sara Lee outlet stores and other foodservice establishments. Consumers can return the product for a full refund. Sara Lee has not received any complaints or reports of illnesses linked to this product. For more information, contact the company at 1-888-891-6100.

      Galliker Dairy Co. Rocky Road Ice Cream and Sundae Nut Cones The recalled ice cream was sold in three-gallon containers and has lot numbers of 008-08, 086-08, and 176-08. The Sundae Nut Cones were sold to foodservice and retail outlets in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. They are individually wrapped and distributed in a 24-pack paperboard box. The recalled products have code dates prior to 01/29/10.

      Galliker Dairy has not received any reports of illnesses linked to these products. For more information, contact Galliker Dairy at 1-800-477-6455 Ext. 239.

      Orchard Valley Harvest Peanuts The recall includes conventional and organic peanuts roasted. The products are packed in 2-5 lb bag packs and sold to Safeway grocery stores for sale in bulk by weight and in "Nut Hut" kiosks in various U.S. stores across the county. All Lots of the following products are impacted by this voluntary recall. Peanuts Dry Roasted Unsalted 24295-70029

      Peanuts Dry Roasted with Salt 24295-70030

      Organic Peanuts Runner Splits Dry Roasted Unsalted 24295-70034

      Peanuts Blanched Runner Splits Dry Roasted Unsalted 24295-70037

      Peanuts Blanched Runner Splits Dry Roasted with Salt 24295-70038

      Organic Peanuts Runner Splits Dry Roasted with Salt 24295-70053

      Customers can return the products for a full refund. For more information, contact the company at 209-521-1701.

      Various Simbree Energy Food products The recall products are distributed throughout the United States and Canada to grocery stores, bike shops, mail order and direct delivery. The recall includes: Simbree Oat Almond Pistash, Simbree Almond Pistachio Energy Bites, Simbree Oat Bites with Peanuts, Almonds and Pistachios/ Bouches d'avoine aux arachides, amandes et pistaches. The products are sold in 6oz/170g plastic clear pouches, pre-printed bags and 15oz/426g clear plastic canisters. The expiration dates range from 02/2009-02/2010. The United States and Canadian UPC codes for the products include: 6 oz/170g individual packages: 8 9484800006 9; United States and Canadian UPC codes for 15oz/426g individual packages: 8 9484800002 1; Canadian case UPC codes for 6oz/170g: 8 9484800024 3; Canadian case UPC for codes 15oz/170g: 8 9484800027 4. The company not received any reports of illnesses linked to these products. Consumers can return the products for a full refund. For more information, contact Simbree Energy Foods at 206-763-6020.

      Rain Creek Baking Corporation's Peanut Butter Turtles, Peanut Butter Baskets and Peanut Butter Princesses: The recall covers the following products:

      SinbadSweets.com 12pc Peanut Butter Princess 0 38105 10304 3
      Sinbad Special Baklava Assortment Sinbad Sweets Peanut Butter Baskets, uncupped 0 38105 10933 0 0 38105 10939 7
      Sinbad Sweets Baklava Assortment 19 pc Bakery and Sweets Sinbad Special European Baklava Assortment (#10989) 0 38105 10944 1 0 38105 10985 4 0 77589 37240 8
      Sinbad Sweets Enrobed Peanut Butter Princesses 0 38105 10996 0
      Sinbad Sweets Peanut Butter Baskets, cupped Sinbad Sweets Peanut Butter Baskets (#11949) 0 38105 11939 6 0 77589 33213 3
      Rain Creek Baking Company Peanut Butter Princesses 0 38105 20013 1
      Rain Creek Baking Company Peanut Butter Turtles 0 38105 20026 1
      Rain Creek Baking Company Peanut Butter Turtle Shells 0 38105 20031 5
      Sinbad Baklava & Sweets 0 38105 20101 5
      Sinbad Baklava & Sweets 0 38105 20102 2
      Sinbad Baklava & Sweets 0 38105 20103 9
      Sinbad Galleta estilo Baklava 0 38105 20106 0
      Sinbad Baklava & Sweets 0 38105 20117 6
      Sinbad Baklava & Sweets 0 38105 20120 6
      Sinbad Baklava & Sweets 0 38105 20124 2
      Sinbad Baklava & Sweets 0 38105 20127 5
      Sinbad Sweets Peanut Butter Princess Baklava 0 38105 20128 2
      Sinbad Baklava & Sweets 0 38105 20129 9
      Sinbad Baklava & Sweets 0 38105 20130 5
      Sinbad Galletas estilo Baklava 0 38105 20180 0
      Rain Creek Baking Company Baklava Assortment * 0 38105 20211 1
      Rain Creek Baking Company Baklava Assortment Rain Creek Baking Company Baklava Assortment 0 38105 20213 5 0 38105 20207 4
      Sinbad Baklava & Sweets 0 38105 21335 3
      Sinbad Sweets European Baklava Assortment * 0 38105 21339 1
      Sinbad Sweets Baklava & Sweets 0 38105 21375 9
      Sinbad Sweets Baklava & Sweets 0 38105 21382 7
      Sinbad Sweets Caffe Sweets Sinbad Sweets Baklava & Sweets 0 38105 22143 3 0 38105 22204 0
      Sinbad Sweets Caffe Sweets Peanut Butter Tartlets Rain Creek Baking Corporation Baklava Assortment * 0 38105 22257 7 0 38105 22280 5
      Michael's Baklava Assortment 0 38105 22297 3
      Rain Creek Baking Corporation Hand Crafted Baklava 0 38105 22306 2

      Items with an asterisk (*) are the only 2009 produced items included in this action. The company sold the products in grocery, warehouse and other retail stores throughout the United States. The company has not received any reports of illnesses linked to these products. Consumers can return the products for a full refund. For more information,

      Country Maid Classic Breaks Peanut Butter Cookie Dough This recalled cookie dough was distributed through fundraising groups from August 20, 2007 through January 9, 2009 -- in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The product comes in a 2 pound rectangular-shaped package with a white wrapper. Classic Breaks Peanut Butter Cookie Dough products with the following lot numbers are included in this action: 22507, 24007, 24707, 29707, 31007, 36207, 03008, 03908, 04608, 06708, 11308, 11408, 21908, 26208, 26308, 29808, 33808, and 36508. The company has not received any reports of illnesses linked to this product. Consumers contact Country Maid for a refund. The number is 1-888-460-6904. For more information, check the company's www.classic-breaks.

      PCA said it will notify customers who received the recalled products. For more information on this action, consumers can contact the company at 1-877-564-7080.

      The FDA now has a complete list of all products recalled in the salmonella outbreak on its Web site. Consumers can check that list to see if their favorite products are included in any recalls.



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