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    Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales recalls raw ground turkey

    The products may be contaminated with Salmonella Reading

    Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales of Faribault, Minn., is recalling approximately 164,210 pounds of raw ground turkey.

    The products may be contaminated with Salmonella Reading.

    The following items, produced on October 22 and October 23, 2018, are being recalled:

    • 3-lb. packages of “Jennie-O GROUND TURKEY 93% LEAN | 7% FAT” with “Use or freeze by” dates of 11/12/18 and 11/13/18 on the side of the trays.
    • 1-lb. packages of “Jennie-O GROUND TURKEY 93% LEAN | 7% FAT” with “Use or freeze by” dates of 11/12/18 on the side of the trays.
    • 1-lb. packages of “Jennie-O TACO SEASONED GROUND TURKEY” with “Use or freeze by” dates of 11/12/18 on the side of the trays.
    • 1-lb. packages of “Jennie-O ITALIAN SEASONED GROUND TURKEY” with “Use or freeze by” dates of 11/12/18 on the side of the trays.
    • 3-lb. packages of “Jennie-O Ground Turkey 85% LEAN | 15% FAT” with a “Use or freeze by” date of 11/13/18 on the side of the trays.
    • 2.5-lb. packages of “Jennie-O Ground Turkey 93% LEAN | 7% FAT” with a “Use or freeze by” date of 11/13/18 on the side of the trays.
    • 3-lb. packages of “STATER BROS. 85% LEAN | 15% FAT ALL NATURAL Ground Turkey” with a “Use or freeze by” date of 11/12/18 on the side of the trays.

    The recalled products, bearing establishment number “EST. P-579” inside the USDA mark of inspection on the side of the tray, were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

    What to do

    Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but discard them or return them to the place of purchase.

    Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Hormel at (800) 621-3505.

    Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales of Faribault, Minn., is recalling approximately 164,210 pounds of raw ground turkey.The products may be contaminated with S...
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    As FDA congratulates meat industry for reducing drug use, advocates warn that antibiotic apocalypse still looms

    While more work needs to be done, researchers are cautiously optimistic about a McDonald’s plan to reduce antibiotics in beef

    After decades of warnings from researchers that routinely feeding antibiotics to farm animals will have grave consequences for humans, the meat industry is showing some signs that it is ready to tackle the problem.

    And one of those signs is coming from McDonald’s, of all places.

    The burger chain had previously received an “F” rating from food safety groups for antibiotic policies that sounded nice on paper but were ultimately ineffectual, the groups said.

    That changed last week when McDonald’s released a statement promising to reduce antibiotics in its beef supply by 2020. The chain says it will only source from farms that use antibiotics on cows when medically necessary, rather than on a routine basis.

    The announcement was followed with more seemingly good news from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this past Tuesday. The agency is crediting a voluntary “stewardship” initiative for new figures suggesting that the meat industry is using less antibiotics than it used to.

    But public health advocates say that the FDA’s numbers, while an improvement, show much more work needs to be done.

    “You’ve got this company that seems to be doing really important work to reduce use voluntarily,” Dr. David Wallinga, a physician and researcher with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), tells ConsumerAffairs. “Then you have the FDA taking unknown baby steps.”

    McDonald’s promises to lower antibiotic use

    The iconic Golden Arch to many consumers is synonymous with the American diet. If McDonald’s truly forces its beef suppliers to cut back on antibiotics, then health advocates are cautiously optimistic that it would force much-needed changes in the entire American beef industry.

    That scenario all depends on McDonald’s actually delivering on its promises.

    The chain has previously promised to reduce antibiotics in its entire meat supply, but it was criticized for failing to include a timeline. The company’s new plan now details a two-year timeline for beef. But not all the specifics are laid out yet.

    Wallinga says that advocates have been haranguing McDonald’s to take a lead on the antibiotics issue for nearly two decades. He says that the NRDC is now pushing McDonald’s to enlist an auditor to ensure that its beef suppliers will follow through.

    "We have said publicly, and to McDonald’s, that we think they need to have a good third-party verifier,” for the new policy to work, Wallinga says.

    Making progress, but still a long way to go

    Public health groups have long accused regulators in the United States of being tepid and slow to act on antibiotic overuse in Americans farms.

    The FDA this year promised to do something about it and implement a “stewardship” program that it said would limit antibiotic usage to only medically necessary cases.

    On Tuesday, the FDA released new statistics which claim to show the government program has been successful.

    The meat industry and the FDA “have made great strides over the past year to support antimicrobial stewardship in animals,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

    According to the FDA’s figures, sales of antibiotics to livestock last year dropped 21 percent compared to 2015 and 28 percent compared to 2009. The FDA says those numbers show that that their efforts are paying off.

    “The sales trends reflected...are very encouraging, and I’m pleased to see that the sales and distribution of these antimicrobial drugs has declined significantly the past two years,” Gottlieb added.

    The NRDC agrees that those numbers are encouraging. But the reductions only tell part of the story. They say the numbers are still too high.

    Antibiotics are still more likely to go to pigs or cows in the United States than they are to American humans, according to the figures. An estimated 70 percent of medically important antibiotics continue to go to the livestock industry.

    “We are seeing real progress, but the American meat industry continues to have a drug problem and the clock is ticking to solve it,” Avinash Kar, senior staff attorney at the NRDC, said in a statement in response to the FDA’s  reporting.

    According to the government figures, 5.1 million pounds of antibiotics were sold for use on cows and 4.5 million pounds were sold for pigs. For chicken, that figure was just 590,000 pounds. Public health advocates credit consumer interest in antibiotic-free poultry for spurring that reduction in chicken.

    They say that beef and pork industries, on the other hand, have been slower to catch on.

    "Beef is definitely harder; I think they deserve some kudos for tackling it,” Wallinga adds of McDonald’s.

    Antibiotic use tied to rise in superbugs

    The FDA in 2017 required all meat producers to obtain something like a prescription before dosing their herds with antibiotics.

    The prescription, officially called a Veterinary Feed Directive, was supposed to curb what researchers have found to be a dangerous trend on corporate mega-farms.

    In corporate factory farms, where animals are often kept in tight corridors, antibiotics are routinely used to keep livestock from getting sick. Pumping animals with antibiotics also fattens them up more quickly.

    Watchdogs warned that none of those practices were remotely healthy, and researchers are now sounding the alarm on a pending antibiotic apocalypse. They estimate that 10 million people will die every year from antibiotic-resistant infections by 2050 if no concrete action is taken. They say that antibiotic overuse in the meat industry, as well as over-prescription to humans, is already causing the rise in so-called superbugs, or antibiotic-resistant infections.

    While the new Veterinary Feed Directives were intended to limit antibiotic prescriptions only to cases in which animals were genuinely sick, advocacy groups criticized the process as ripe with loopholes.

    In May, the NRDC’s Wallinga published a paper suggesting that the FDA program was failing to stop antibiotic overuse. According to his research, medically important antibiotics continue to be sold in roughly the same amount to pigs as they are to humans. His analyses found that 27 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States went to pigs.

    “The irresponsible use of antibiotics on pig farms has created ripe conditions for drug-resistant bacteria -- as well as the genes that foster resistance -- to multiply and spread from farms to people,” the report warned.

    But the news isn’t all gloomy. The poultry industry has been forced to make changes in response to numerous fast food chains switching to antibiotic-free chicken in recent years.

    McDonald’s and numerous other chains have already committed to reducing antibiotics in its poultry supply, forcing more than half of the chicken industry to change its ways, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG).

    Now, they are hoping that McDonald’s will force a similar change in the beef market.

    “McDonald’s new commitment is a promising step forward that will help preserve antibiotics for the future, and that’s something we should all be happy about,” writes the US PIRG.

    After decades of warnings from researchers that routinely feeding antibiotics to farm animals will have grave consequences for humans, the meat industry is...
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      FDA says most teething jewelry is dangerous to children

      The necklaces pose a choking and strangulation hazard

      The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning parents about the dangers posed by teething jewelry to infants and young children.

      The agency is not singling out a particular brand or type of jewelry but rather warns the products, in general, are not safe.

      The FDA says it has received reports of death and serious injuries to infants and children who have been exposed to teething jewelry, such as amber teething necklaces. The threat includes the possibility of strangulation or choking.

      Teething jewelry is commonly used to provide relief to children from teething pain, but the FDA says any object children place in their mouths can be potentially dangerous. The jewelry comes in many forms and can be made of different types of material.

      FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the warning stems from the agency’s observations of the products’ use and the danger they pose.

      Rubber teething rings are okay

      “Consumers should consider following the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations of alternative ways for treating teething pain, such as rubbing inflamed gums with a clean finger or using a teething ring made of firm rubber,” Gottlieb said. “Given the breadth of the market for these teething necklaces and jewelry, we’re sharing this important safety information directly to consumers in order to help prevent injuries in infants and kids.”

      Children using teething jewelry can choke if the jewelry breaks and small pieces, such as beads, become lodged in the infant’s throat. Children have also been strangled when a teething necklace is wrapped too tightly around the neck or gets caught on an object.

      The FDA is also concerned about the possibility the jewelry can cause injury to the mouth or lead to infection if it pierces the gums.

      Avoid amber necklaces

      Besides those concerns the FDA says amber teething necklaces contain succinic acid, which allegedly may be released into an infant’s blood stream in unknown quantities.

      “Manufacturers of these products often claim succinic acid acts as an anti-inflammatory and relieves teething and joint pain. The FDA has not evaluated these claims for safety or effectiveness and recommends parents not use these products.” the agency said in a release.

      Besides objects, the FDA continues to recommend against using commercial creams, gels and sprays to relieve teething pain. It said it will continue to monitor the adverse event reports for incidents harming children and may step up its warnings if warranted.

      The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning parents about the dangers posed by teething jewelry to infants and young children.The agency is not s...
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      Congressional committee calls Mick Mulvaney to testify about consumer concerns

      The tug-of-war over controlling vs. championing consumer interests begins again

      President Trump’s newly-appointed chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, has been asked to update a congressional committee about his efforts to rehab the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

      Representative Maxine Waters, who will chair the House Financial Services Committee come 2019, said she expects his "full and complete cooperation" as the panel reviews the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), according to Reuters.

      The consumer bureau, born out of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law -- legislation passed in 2010 in response to the financial crisis of 2008 -- has been a punching bag for Republicans, who criticize the agency for being too broad, having too much power, and whose authority needs to come under White House and Congress’ control.

      At present, the CFPB is an independent agency and its jurisdiction includes banks, credit unions, securities firms, payday lenders, mortgage-servicing operations, foreclosure relief services, debt collectors and other financial companies operating in the United States.

      Earlier this year, Mulvaney, in his agency's report to Congress, advocated major changes at the agency, all of which would limit its authority and independence.

      The first thing Mulvaney asked for was Congress to control the CFPB's funding away from the Federal Reserve, a provision designed to shield the consumer protection agency from political pressure. Mulvaney also proposed that Congress appoint a CFPB inspector general to answer complaints about the bureau, and he said Congress should give itself the power to finalize all bureau rules.

      Mr. Mulvaney, meet Ms. Waters...

      Mulvaney may have met his match in Maxine Waters. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the California congresswoman led a bipartisan effort asking FEMA to place more of a burden on insurers, many of whom, the lawmaker said, "were underpaying or outright denying legitimate flood insurance claims."

      Back in 2017, Waters also led the fight in banning forced arbitration clauses in contracts for consumer financial products -- a rule ensuring that consumers do not have to sign away their legal rights in order to open a bank account, get a credit card, finance a car, or secure a private student loan.

      "The rule is very important because consumers who are cheated by financial institutions and who are then forced into closed-door arbitration receive more compensation than they would’ve received if they had had the opportunity to have their day in court," Waters wrote in remarks about her efforts.

      "Forced arbitration benefits large corporations and Wall Street banks to the detriment of consumers. For example, Wells Fargo continues to use forced arbitration to prevent consumers from pursuing class action lawsuits against the bank for opening millions of fraudulent accounts using their personal information."

      When Republicans pushed through The Financial Choice Act of 2017 -- legislation that scrapped much of Dodd-Frank -- Waters railed against it, dubbing it the "Wrong Choice Act" and calling it the "latest in a wave of Republican attacks on financial regulation and consumer protection. Now, they are moving to snatch away legal rights from consumers."

      President Trump’s newly-appointed chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, has been asked to update a congressional committee about his efforts to rehab the Consumer...
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      Stroke rates deemed ‘startlingly’ high for consumers over the age of 25

      Researchers say the odds are different depending on where you live

      The older we get, the more our bodies evolve and change. Though very few would consider mid-twenties old, researchers found a “startling” statistic for those who reach the quarter of a century mark.

      According to researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the global risk of developing a stroke increases a considerable amount at 25 years and older.

      “Our findings are startling,” said Dr. Gregory Roth. “It is important that physicians warn their patients about preventing strokes and other vascular diseases at earlier points in patients’ lives. We found extremely high lifetime risk for stroke, and based on other research we evaluated, it is clear that younger adults need to think about long-term health risks.”

      Global reach

      The researchers looked at stroke risk on a global scale and found that consumers’ chances of having a stroke are coming much earlier in life. Though risk used to come around at age 45, this most recent study found that adults are actually at risk at 25.

      Using the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, the researchers were able to look at various regions around the world and assess the overall risk.

      When the study wrapped up in 2016, eastern sub-Saharan Africa was found to have the lowest lifetime risk of stroke, coming in at under 12 percent. Comparatively, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, and East Asia were found to have the highest risks, each topping off at over 30 percent, with East Asia inching towards 40 percent.

      “The lower risk of lifetime stroke in sub-Saharan Africa does not necessarily represent a lower incidence of stroke or more effective prevention and treatment strategies,” said Dr. Roth. “On the contrary, people there are merely at higher risk of dying of another cause first.”

      To help combat the risk of stroke, the researchers urge healthcare providers to provide their patients with the highest quality of care, as strokes can be avoidable. Eating healthy foods, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco all contribute to lowering the risk of stroke.

      Focusing on health

      The researchers’ advice was sound: consumers can help reduce their risk of stroke by eating healthy and exercising.

      Recent studies have shown the benefits of just light exercise for elderly people looking to avoid a stroke, while eating one egg per day was found to be beneficial in the fight against heart disease and stroke.

      The older we get, the more our bodies evolve and change. Though very few would consider mid-twenties old, researchers found a “startling” statistic for tho...
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      Children's personalities could be they key to how they perform in math and reading

      Characteristics like curiosity and confidence were found to be the gamechangers

      All parents want their children to succeed -- especially academically. And while studying and tutors are certainly beneficial, a new study shows that the ability to excel academically comes from kids’ own personality traits.

      Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin found that characteristics like confidence and intellectual curiosity are what help children succeed in reading and math.

      “Our findings provide additional knowledge on the complex set of skills that interact and give raise to differences in academic achievement between children, as well as the complexity of generic architecture of academic achievement, which is made of many parts beyond intellect,” said lead author Margherita Malanchini.

      Power of personality

      The researchers conducted their study on twins in an effort to see what characteristics led to the highest levels of academic achievement.

      The study included over 1,000 twins between the ages of eight and 14, all of whom were part of the Texas Twin Project -- a population-based study run by the psychology department at UT Austin.

      In previous research, experts believed that children were more likely to succeed at school if they were able to self-regulate, or stay behaved and focused regardless of any other distractions. However, upon further inspection, self-regulation didn’t account for other characteristics that were found to be critical to achievement.

      One of the biggest takeaways from the study was that the children that were the most dedicated and conscientious weren’t the ones who were receiving all the accolades. Rather, children who were able to be well-organized, plan, and fully complete tasks were more likely to succeed academically. They were also typically more confident and open-minded.

      These findings show that it’s not all about self-regulation in the classroom, as many psychologists had previously thought.

      “This indicates that some of the genetic factors that predispose children to do well in school are also the same genetic factors that predispose children to be more open to new challenges, creative, intellectually curious, and confident in their own academic ability,” said researcher Elliot M. Tucker-Drob.

      Fostering academic success

      Psychology experts all have their own theories as to why some children perform better in school than others. Whether it’s birth order or inherent motivation, or this most recent study that believes it’s all about genetic personality traits, our reasons for behaving a certain way come with several different sources.

      One recent study found that harsh parenting is not the answer when it comes to improving children’s academic performance. Children whose parents often yelled, threatened, or hit them were more likely to shirk school responsibilities to pay more attention to their friends. Many also don’t achieve as much academically over the long-term.

      However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, focusing too much on achievement can be detrimental to children.

      Researchers found that students who attended high schools that placed a strong emphasis on academic achievement were more likely to struggle later in life. As many as five decades after high school, these students had lower incomes and fewer educational and career achievements.

      All parents want their children to succeed -- especially academically. And while studying and tutors are certainly beneficial, a new study shows that the a...
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      Lyft announces new hire to lead its AV safety efforts

      The ride-hailing company has hired John Maddox, a former USDOT official

      As part of its ongoing effort to improve the safety of its self-driving cars, Lyft has hired John Maddox, founder of the American Center for Mobility and former associate administrator of vehicle safety research at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

      In a statement announcing the new hire, Lyft said Maddox will oversee its autonomous vehicle safety and compliance efforts and fill a role as the company’s first senior director of autonomous safety and compliance.

      “At Lyft, Maddox will lead an entire new division focused on safety and compliance within the company's policy, legal and self-driving operation efforts,” the company said.

      Maddox, who will be based at Lyft's San Francisco offices, said in a statement that he’s “excited” to join the Lyft team.

      “I’ve dedicated my career to advancing safe mobility technologies. Joining Lyft is a continuation of that effort, and I’m excited to be part of such a talented and energized team that’s leading the way in redefining the automotive industry and future of transportation,” Maddox said.

      Since launching its self-driving car division in July 2017, Lyft has teamed up with Drive.ai, as well as with automotive industry supplier Magna on autonomous vehicle technology. In October, company acquired augmented reality company Blue Vision Labs to help with its AV software.

      As part of its ongoing effort to improve the safety of its self-driving cars, Lyft has hired John Maddox, founder of the American Center for Mobility and f...
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      Christmas gasoline prices are at a two-year low

      Falling oil prices are giving motorists a holiday gift

      Motorists hitting the road over the Christmas holiday will get the gift of lower gasoline prices, as prices at the pump have fallen to another 2018 low.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular is $2.35 a gallon, four cents lower than last Friday. It’s eight cents lower than at this time a year ago.

      The price of premium is $2.94 a gallon, also down four cents in the last week. The average price of diesel fuel is $3.04 a gallon, down from $3.08 a week ago.

      Falling gasoline prices are largely a byproduct of the oil market, which has seen oil prices slide below $50 a barrel. The Energy Information Administration reports U.S. crude oil supplies declined slightly for the third straight week, but so far it hasn’t affected the price.

      At $2.35, the holiday gas prices are the cheapest consumers have seen during December since  2016. GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, Patrick DeHaan, reports the national average price is the lowest since August 2016. He says 31 states have at least one station selling gasoline below $2 a gallon.

      “AAA expects 102 million Americans to drive to their holiday destination this year, which is a four percent increase year-over-year,” said Jeanette Casselano, a AAA spokesperson. “No doubt cheaper gas prices are fueling their decision to hit the road.”

      The states with the most expensive regular gas

      These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

      • Hawaii ($3.47)

      • California ($3.41)

      • Washington ($3.15)

      • Alaska ($3.09)

      • Oregon ($3.00)

      • Nevada ($2.99)

      • Wyoming ($2.70)

      • Arizona ($2.70)

      • Utah ($2.69)

      • Idaho ($2.67)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

      • Missouri ($1.92)

      • Oklahoma ($2.01)

      • South Carolina ($2.01)

      • Alabama ($2.01)

      • Texas ($2.01)

      • Mississippi ($2.01)

      • Louisiana ($2.03)

      • Kansas ($2.03)

      • Tennessee ($2.07)

      Motorists hitting the road over the Christmas holiday will get the gift of lower gasoline prices, as prices at the pump have fallen to another 2018 low....
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      Model year 2008-2019 Toyota Land Cruisers and Lexus LX 570s recalled

      The front passenger, knee and passenger seat-mounted side airbag may fail to deploy

      Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing is recalling 89,740 model year 2008-2019 Toyota Land Cruisers and Lexus LX 570.

      Over time, the seat belt tension sensor wire harness may break and deactivate the front passenger airbag, knee airbag, and passenger seat-mounted side airbag.

      In the event of a crash, deactivated air bags can increase the risk of injury .

      What to do

      The remedy for this recall is still under development.

      Interim notification letters are expected to be mailed on February 11, 2019. A second notification will be mailed once remedy parts are available.

      Owners may contact Toyota customer service at (888)270-9371 or Lexus customer service at (800)255-3987. Toyota's numbers for this recall are Lexus Interim J2L and Remedy JLL, Toyota Interim J15 and Remedy J05.

      Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing is recalling 89,740 model year 2008-2019 Toyota Land Cruisers and Lexus LX 570.Over time, the seat belt tensio...
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      Emergency software patch issued for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer

      Attackers can install programs, modify data, and create new accounts

      Heads up, Internet Explorer users! Microsoft issued an emergency software patch early Thursday to sew up a major security hole in its Internet Explorer (IE) web browser that allows hackers to weasel their ways into Windows-based computers.

      Microsoft has Google to thank for its quick response. Google tipped off its fellow tech titan that the browser’s vulnerability would allow an attacker to engineer arbitrary code in the context of the current user.

      If an attacker was successful in hacking their way in, the vulnerability could gain the con artist the same user rights as the current user. Once inside, an attacker could install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.

      “In a web-based attack scenario, an attacker could host a specially crafted website that is designed to exploit the vulnerability through Internet Explorer and then convince a user to view the website, for example, by sending an email,” wrote Microsoft.

      En garde

      According to KrebsOnSecurity and their sources at cyber exposure company Tenable, the vulnerability affects these versions of Internet Explorer:

      • Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 7 to Windows 10 in addition to Windows Server 2012, 2016 and 2019

      • Internet Explorer 9 on Windows Server 2008

      • Internet Explorer 10 on Windows Server 2012

      “Customers who have Windows Update enabled and have applied the latest security updates, are protected automatically,” wrote Microsoft in its warning message. “We encourage customers to turn on automatic updates.”

      Are you a Windows 10 user? You can manually check for updates here. For assistance related to earlier versions of Windows, go here.

      There was no word on any vulnerability for users who employ Microsoft’s browser extension for Google Chrome.

      Heads up, Internet Explorer users! Microsoft issued an emergency software patch early Thursday to sew up a major security hole in its Internet Explorer (IE...
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      Apple to allow consumers to gift in-app purchases

      The company altered its guidelines to make it possible

      Apple has altered its App Store Guidelines to allow consumers to gift in-app purchases to friends and family, according to MacRumors. The company previously prevented users from doing so.

      Prior to the change, Apple said apps "should not directly or indirectly enable gifting of in-app purchase content, features or consumable items to others."

      On Wednesday, Apple tweaked its guidelines to say, “Apps may enable gifting of items that are eligible for in-app purchase to others." The tech giant notes that the gifts can only be refunded to the original purchaser and cannot be exchanged.

      Since the gifting policy is new to Apple, it’s not yet clear how the company plans to implement the change.

      Currently, users can gift an app to someone else by tapping the three dots icon next to its price and selecting the “Gift App” option from the menu. From there, the recipient will be sent an email with a credit for the app.

      Apart from making the revision to section 3.1 of its guidelines, Apple hasn’t provided details on how in-app gifting will be handled. The company is expected to offer more information about gifting support for in-app purchases in the near future.

      Apple has altered its App Store Guidelines to allow consumers to gift in-app purchases to friends and family, according to MacRumors. The company previousl...
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      Consumer groups pushing for investigation of Google’s Play Store practices

      Lawmakers also want an investigation in whether Google is violating children’s privacy laws

      On Tuesday, nearly two dozen consumer, privacy, and public health groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging that Google’s Play Store allows children to download apps that put their personal information at risk.

      The groups argued that the tech giant’s app store is endangering children by allowing apps that violate privacy laws, contain adult content, or include manipulative advertising in a section of its Play store designed for children, the Associated Press reported.

      The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy were the primary groups to file the complaint. In it, they argued that some apps that Google deems appropriate for children are “sharing kids’ sensitive personal information without the required parental consent.”

      Now, a group of U.S. lawmakers are also putting pressure on the FTC to launch an investigation into whether Google is breaking privacy laws.

      Regulators want an investigation

      In a letter to the FTC, Democratic Senators Ed Markey, Richard Blumenthal, and Tom Udall encouraged the agency to initiate an investigation to determine whether Google is violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

      “The FTC is statutorily obliged to enforce COPPA and protect American consumers from unfair and deceptive practices,” the senators wrote in a letter to the FTC’s five commissioners. “We’ve brought to your attention a number of pressing concerns that call into question Google’s compliance with existing laws, and we encourage you to initiate an investigation into the aforementioned concerns as soon as possible.”

      Representative David Cicilline (D -Rhode Island) is also in support of an investigation into the matter, the AP reported.

      In a statement to the media, Google said it takes these issues “very seriously” and that it’s continually working hard to “remove any content that is inappropriately aimed at children from our platform.”

      In 2014, the FTC charged both Google and Apple with unfair practices involving kids. Google agreed to refund consumers $19 million in Google Play purchases that were made without parents’ consent, and Apple agreed to refund $32.5 million for the in-app purchases made on its devices without parents’ consent.

      On Tuesday, nearly two dozen consumer, privacy, and public health groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging that Google’s P...
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