Browse by year
Bella Kitchen Slow Cookers Recalled08/31/2010ConsumerAffairs
Bella Kitchen Slow Cookers Recalled...
Sensio Inc. is recalling about 25,000 Bella Kitchen slow cookers. The control panel can overheat and melt, posing a fire hazard.
Sensio has received 60 reports of the control panels of the slow cookers smoking, melting and sparking and three reports of panels catching fire. Fourteen incidents resulted in minor damage to countertops. No injuries have been reported.
This recall involves the Bella Kitchen 5-quart programmable slow cookers. Only slow cookers with model number WJ-5000DE and date codes 0907 or 0909 are included in this recall. The slow cookers are black and "Bella Kitchen" is marked on the control panel. The model number and the four-digit date code are printed on a label on the underside.
The slow cookers, made in China, were sold by Kohl's Department stores from July 2009 through December 2009 for between $20 and $40.
Consumers should stop using the slow cooker immediately, unplug it and contact Sensio for information on receiving a full refund.
For additional information, contact Sensio toll-free at (888) 296-9675 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or visit the firm's website at www.acbpromotions.com/sensiorecall
The recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
32-Inch Sharp LCD-TVs Recalled08/31/2010ConsumerAffairs
Sharp is recalling about 9,000 32-inch LCD TVs. The TV stand's neck support can break and cause the TV to tip over, posing a risk of injury to the consumer...
Sharp is recalling about 9,000 32-inch LCD TVs. The TV stand's neck support can break and cause the TV to tip over, posing a risk of injury to the consumer.
This recall involves Sharp 32-inch LCD-TVs with model number LC-32SB28UT. The model number, serial number and manufacture dates of March 2010 through April 2010, are printed on a label on the back of the unit. Serial numbers included in the recall are:
|Serial Number Range|
|0028 32837 through 0028 35190|
|0048 57501 through 0048 59020|
|0048 61401 through 0048 64020|
|0048 72001 through 0048 78800|
No other model or serial number is included in this recall.
The TVs, made in China, were sold by major retail stores nationwide from March 2010 through August 2010 for about $550.
Consumers should immediately contact Sharp to arrange for a free replacement stand neck support.
For additional information, contact Sharp at (800) 291-4289 anytime, or visit the firm's website at www.sharpusa.com
The recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Medical Device Maker Settles $1.35 Million Mass. Charges
Product pushed for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration08/27/2010ConsumerAffairs
Medical Device Maker Settles $1.35 Million Mass. Charges...
Stryker Biotech, a maker of artificial joints and other medical devices, will pay $1.35 million to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The payment will resolve allegations that it marketed certain orthopedic products for uses that had not been reviewed and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and misled health care providers about the appropriate uses of its products.
As a result of a multi-year investigation, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley alleged that Stryker violated the state's Consumer Protection Act by engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices that boosted sales of certain products used in orthopedic procedures to strengthen and promote growth of bones.
Under the terms of the settlement, Stryker will pay $325,000 in civil penalties, $875,000 to fund efforts to combat unlawful marketing and other programs to benefit health care consumers, and $150,000 to cover attorneys' fees and investigative costs.
"Stryker Biotech subverted review procedures designed to safeguard patients and promoted uses of its products that were not shown to be safe or effective," Coakley said. "Our office will vigorously pursue any allegations that health care companies are compromising patient safety in pursuit of profits."
The attorney general's investigation focused on the company's marketing of OP-1 Implant and OP-1 Putty, which are bone morphogenetic protein products designed to promote bone growth and are used to treat orthopedic conditions involving weakened or deteriorated bones. The OP-1 products were granted a limited approval by the FDA that restricted the use of the products. With this limited form of approval, the OP-1 products could be used in patients only after a hospital's Institutional Review Board reviewed and approved their use.
In a complaint filed in Suffolk Superior Court, the attorney general's office alleged that Stryker promoted OP-1 products for conditions that fell outside their very narrow FDA-approved uses and withheld information from health care professionals about the restrictions imposed on the use of the OP-1 products. The complaint also claimed that a Stryker sales representative falsified Institutional Review Board documentation for several Massachusetts hospitals, resulting in the use of OP-1 products in patients without adequate and required review.
In addition, the AG's complaint alleged that Stryker promoted the use of its OP-1 products in combination with Calstrux, a bone void filler made by Stryker, even though the mixture of the two products had not been studied and had not been approved by the FDA. Stryker continued to promote the unproven and unstudied OP-1/Calstrux mixture even after company officials became aware of reports that the mixture had caused adverse effects in patients, including poor wound healing and inflammation, according to the complaint.
The settlement bars Stryker and related Stryker entities including Stryker Corporation, Stryker Sales Corporation and Howmedica Osteonics, from engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices, including marketing Stryker products for uses that have not been reviewed and approved by the FDA and misleading health care providers about the appropriate uses of Stryker products.
Suit Filed Against Duo Who Targeted Seniors With Medicaid Ploy
Pair preyed on nursing home residents, promising help that never came, officials say08/27/2010ConsumerAffairs
Suit Filed Against Duo Who Targeted Seniors With Medicaid Ploy...
Ohio senior citizens who hoped to receive help in applying to Medicaid became victims of a statewide scam, according to a lawsuit filed recently by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.
The lawsuit contends the scam was orchestrated by two individuals who later left the state and now reside in New Mexico. Andrea L. West and George W. West, formerly of Dublin, are charged with multiple violations of Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act and Home Solicitation Sales Act.
"The Wests operated a business called Estate Planning Paralegal Services and told consumers they were paralegals, when in fact that was a misrepresentation," said Cordray. "They targeted residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities around the state, promising to help the residents apply for Medicaid."
Cordray says while the Wests received thousands of dollars in payment, they never delivered the promised services. "As a result, consumers who paid for the services had their Medicaid applications denied," he says. "Those who fell victim to the scheme or know someone who may be a victim should contact my office immediately. We intend to seek full restitution for the victims of this scam."
According to the lawsuit, Estate Planning Paralegal Services operated out of Dublin and did not employ any lawyers. By using the word "paralegal" in the name of their business, the Wests misrepresented that consumers would receive professional services associated with legal counsel.
The Wests are accused of posing as "Medicaid specialists" and charging seniors up to $5,000 for assistance with the Medicaid application process. They often reached agreements at consumers' homes, but failed to provide consumers with a three-day right to cancel the contract, as is required by Ohio law. After accepting payment, the Wests not only failed to provide the services, but they also failed to return original copies of consumers' important financial documents.
Estate Planning Paralegal Services also was not incorporated or registered with the state as a business.
Cordray is asking the court to impose injunctive relief, restitution and civil penalties.
"This lawsuit underscores the importance of educating residents of assisted living facilities and nursing homes as well as their families," he said. "Unfortunately, this population can be particularly vulnerable to scam artists and unscrupulous salespeople. We need to work together to protect our growing senior population from individuals who intend to harm them."
Consumers are encouraged to research a company's reputation carefully with the Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau and to be wary of companies that demand large upfront payments. They also should understand that paralegals are not attorneys and may not do legal work unless it is supervised by an attorney.
Magnetic Maze Boards Recalled08/26/2010ConsumerAffairs
Magnetic Maze Boards Recalled...
Lakeshore Learning Materials is recalling about 18,500 magnetic maze boards. The maze boards plastic wand can separate and expose a magnet that can be a choking hazard to children.
Also, if a child has more than one of these toys and the magnets detach and are swallowed, the magnets can attract each other and cause intestinal perforations or blockages, which can be fatal.
Lakeshore has received ten reports of wands separating and magnets detaching. No injuries have been reported.
This recall involves wooden magnetic maze boards. The wooden boards have a clear plastic sheet that covers small wooden or plastic pieces located inside a maze. A plastic wand containing a magnet in its tip is attached to the board by a cord. The wand is used to move items inside the maze. The top of the board reads: Whos Hiding in the Garden?, Whos Hiding in the Ocean?, Magnetic Counting Maze, Magnetic Alphabet Board or My Community Magnetic Board.
The boards, made in China, were sold by Lakeshore Learning Materials stores nationwide, its catalogs and online at www.lakeshorelearning.com from January 2009 through May 2010 singly or in sets for between $30 and $40.
Consumers should immediately take this toy away from children and contact Lakeshore to receive a free replacement product.
For additional information, contact Lakeshore Learning Materials at (800) 428-4414 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, or visit the companys website at www.lakeshorelearning.com.
The recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).-->-->
Sanus, Simplicity Flat-Screen TV Wall Mounts Recalled08/25/2010ConsumerAffairs
Milestone AV Technologies is recalling about 131,000 flat-screen TV wall mounts. The elbow joint components on the wall mounts arm do not fit together prop...
Milestone AV Technologies is recalling about 131,000 flat-screen TV wall mounts. The elbow joint components on the wall mounts arm do not fit together properly, causing the attached television to tilt and possibly fall when the television is adjusted. This could pose an injury hazard to a consumer.
This recall involves the Sanus Vision Mount model LF228-B1 wall mounts and Simplicity model SLF2. The wall mounts were sold for flat screen televisions. The model numbers can be found on the UL sticker on the wall plate.
The Sanus Vision Mount model LF228-B1 was sold through independent television mount dealers nationwide from June 2009 through July 2010 for about $450. The Simplicity model SLF2 was sold through Costco from June 2009 through July 2010 for about $200. Both were made in China.
Consumers should immediately inspect the wall mount to determine if the elbow joint fits properly and contact Milestone for a free replacement wall mount arm. Instructions for visual inspections are located at www.milestone.com/recall.
For additional information, contact Milestone toll-free at (877) 894-6280 between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. CT Monday through Friday and between 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. CT Saturday through Sunday or visit the firms website at www.milestone.com/recall.
FDA Releases Guidance On Federal Menu Labeling Requirements
Proposed regulations deal with chain restaurants, state and local laws08/25/2010ConsumerAffairs
FDA Releases Guidance On Federal Menu Labeling Requirements...
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released two documents that outline steps to help chain restaurants comply with new federal nutrition labeling requirements.
"One of the most important things we can do when it comes to the nation's health is to provide simple basic information to the American people so they can make choices that are best for them and their family," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D. "The menu labeling program will help Americans get the facts about food choices that are available to them in restaurants and vending machines so they know what is in the food and can make healthier selections."
Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act, signed into law in March 2010, set new federal requirements for nutrition labeling for foods sold at certain chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments. Establishments with 20 or more locations may be affected.
The documents released by the FDA include:
• A draft guidance document describing implementation of certain provisions of the federal law. For certain restaurants and similar retail food establishments, these statutory provisions include posting the number of calories for standard menu items on menus and menu boards, providing additional nutrition information in writing, and posting clearly on menus and menu boards that such information is available upon request. These establishments also must post calorie information for self-serve items and foods on display.
• A final guidance document for industry regarding the effect of the new federal nutrition labeling requirements on state and local laws.
The draft guidance states that the FDA realizes that industry may need additional information and time to comply with the new provisions, and that the agency expects to refrain from enforcement action for a time period that will be provided in the guidance once it is finalized. The agency is interested in comments from the public on the appropriate length of this time period.
Comments may be submitted by mail to:
The Division of Dockets Management
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852
Comments may also be submitted electronically to the docket by following these directions:
1. Choose "Submit a Comment" from the top task bar
2. Enter one of the following docket numbers in the "Keyword" space:
• July 7, 2010 docket notice: FDA-2010-N-0298
• August 24, 2010 Draft Guidance for Industry: Question and Answers Regarding Implementation of the Menu Labeling Provisions of Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act of 2010: FDA-2010-D-0370
• August 24, 2010 Guidance for Industry: Questions and Answers Regarding the Effect of Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act on State and Local Menu and Vending Machine Labeling Laws August 2010: FDA-2010-D-0354
3. Then select "Search"
Char-Broil Recalls Vertical Gas Smokers08/24/2010ConsumerAffairs
Char-Broil Recalls Vertical Gas Smokers...
Char-Broil is recalling about 18,000 vertical gas smokers.
When the temperature setting is in "low," the smoker's hose/valve/regulator (HVR) assembly does not allow sufficient gas to flow, causing the flame to extinguish. Gas continues to flow and build up inside the smoker. If the smoker is reignited the build-up of propane gas can cause an explosion that bursts the smoker's door open, posing an injury hazard.
The company has received five reports of doors bursting open and hitting consumers. Injuries reported include burns to face and head, head concussion and cuts.
This recall involves the Char-Broil vertical gas smokers with model number 07701413. The model number is printed on a metal tag located on the right rear leg of the smoker. The smoker measures 21.5" x 19.5" x 45.5" and weighs 75 pounds. A "G" inside a triangle is printed on the regulator (see photo below).
The smokers, made in China, were sold at Walmart and various other retailers nationwide from March 2008 through June 2010 for about $140.
Consumers should stop using the recalled smokers and contact Char-Broil for a free replacement hose/valve/regulator assembly and installation instructions.
For additional information, contact Char-Broil toll-free at (866) 671-7988 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's website at www.charbroil.com.
Williams-Sonoma Recalls Beaba Express Baby Bottle Warmers08/24/2010ConsumerAffairs
Williams-Sonoma Recalls Beaba Express Baby Bottle Warmers...
Williams-Sonoma is recalling about 11,000 Beaba Express baby bottle warmers. The bottle warmers can overheat liquids and baby food, posing a burn hazard to adults and babies.
The firm has received 10 reports of the bottles overheating, including one report of an adult who received a finger burn from touching a hot bottle.
This recall involves the Beaba Express Steam Bottle Warmer which uses steam to heat baby bottles or baby food. The bottle warmer is green with an orange temperature dial. "Beaba" is printed on the base and model number 9602 is printed on the underside of the warmer.
The bottle warmers, made in China, were sold at Williams-Sonoma stores nationwide, online at www.williams-sonoma.com and through Williams-Sonoma catalogs from June 2010 through July 2010 for about $65.
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled bottle warmers and call Williams-Sonoma for instructions on how to return the product for a full refund. Additionally, consumers who return the bottle warmers will receive a $25 Williams-Sonoma merchandise card.
For additional information, contact Williams-Sonoma toll-free at (877) 548-0850 between 4 a.m. and 9 p.m. PT seven days a week or visit the firm's website at www.williams-sonoma.com.
MamaLittleHelper Recalls Baby Hammocks08/24/2010ConsumerAffairs
MamaLittleHelper Recalls Baby Hammocks...
MammaLittleHelper LLC is recalling about 500 baby hammocks. The side-to-side shifting or tilting of the hammock can cause the infant to roll and become entrapped or wedged against the hammock's fabric and/or mattress pad, resulting in a suffocation hazard.
The firm has received three reports of the hammock becoming unbalanced, including one report of a two-month old who rolled to the side corner of the hammock and was found crying face down. No injuries have been reported.
This recall includes MamaLittleHelper Hammocks with model numbers 1010, 1020 and BL222. They have a steel frame and a fabric hammock with a mattress which are connected by a large spring, safety rope and a metal hanger. Model BL222 has a computerized rocker device. "MamaLittleHelper" is printed on a label sewn onto the hammock models 1010 and 1020. Model BL222 does not have a label.
The hammocks, made in Malaysia, were sold online at www.mamalittlehelper.com from May 2008 through February 2010 for between $100 and $230.
Parents and caregivers should immediately stop using the hammocks and find an alternative, safe sleeping environment for their baby. Contact MamaLittleHelper to receive a free repair kit for hammock models 1010 and 1020. Consumers who own model BL222 should return the hammock to MamaLittleHelper in exchange for a new hammock. There is no repair available for model BL222. Repair kits can also be ordered online at www.mamalittlehelper.com/recall.htm
For additional information, contact MamaLittleHelper toll-free at (866) 612-9986 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, visit the firm's website www.mamalittlehelper.com/recall.htm. -->
Hawaii resident sues game developer for addiction08/22/2010ConsumerAffairs
Video Game Caused Psychological Dependence, Suit Claims...
Mazda Plans Recall of 2007-2008 Mazda3, Mazda5 Models
Power steering can fail unexpectedly08/20/2010ConsumerAffairsBy Truman Lewis
Mazda Plans Recall of 2007-2008 Mazda3, Mazda5 Models...
Flaws in the power-steering system are driving Mazda to recall more than half a million vehicles worldwide, the company announced.
Mazda said it plans to recall 215,000 vehicles in the United States and more than 10,000 in China. Additional recalls are being planned in Europe and Australia, bringing the total to about 514,000 vehicles, a company spokesman said.
The affected models include the Mazda3 and Mazda5, as they are known in the U.S., manufactured in Japan from 2007 to 2008.
The company said the vehicles could experience a sudden loss of power steering, increasing the risk of a crash. Three accidents have been attributed to the defect in the United States, none involving injuries or deaths.
Zooper Tango Recalls Double Strollers08/19/2010ConsumerAffairs
Zooper Tango Recalls Double Strollers...
Lan Enterprises is recalling about 3,700 Zooper Tango double strollers. The stroller's frame latch above the front wheels can fail when the stroller hits an object, causing the stroller to unexpectedly collapse. This can result in minor scrapes, cuts and bruises.
The company has received 185 reports of frame latch failures. In one incident a 13-month-old boy and a 3-year-old boy received scrapes and bruises when their stroller hit a sidewalk and the stroller collapsed.
This recall involves 2007 and 2008 Zooper Tango double strollers with a model number of SL808B and SL808F. The model numbers were printed on the original packaging. The strollers have production dates ranging from January 1, 2007, through April 30, 2008. The production dates are printed on the warning labels attached to the seats. The word "Zooper" is printed on the stroller canopies and grab bars. The Web address www.zooper.com is printed on the basket under the stroller seats.
The strollers,, made in China, were sold at juvenile product and mass merchandise retailers nationwide and at www.babiesrus.com from January 2007 through August 2008 for between $400 and $430.
Consumers should immediately stop using these recalled strollers and contact Zooper USA to receive a free repair kit.
For additional information, contact Zooper USA toll-free at (888) 966-7379 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or visit the firm's website at www.zooper.com.
CVS, Pennsylvania, Reach Settlement On Expired Drugs, Food Products
Drug chain to reward whistleblowers with coupons, provide products to needy families08/19/2010ConsumerAffairs
CVS, Pennsylvania, Reach Settlement On Expired Drugs, Food Products...
The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Health Care Section has reached a $250,000 consumer protection settlement with the CVS Pharmacy chain addressing complaints that expired over the counter drugs, infant formula, baby food, dairy products and other food items were sold at stores in the Commonwealth.
"Expiration dates are included on various products to ensure that consumers are purchasing items that are effective and safe to use," Attorney General Tom Corbett said. "This settlement not only requires CVS to adopt policies designed to prevent expired items from being sold in the future, it will also help community organizations provide much-needed food and medical supplies to low-income families across Pennsylvania."
The agreement with Pennsylvania CVS Pharmacy and White Cross Stores Inc. No 14, known as an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC), requires the pharmacy chain to take a number of steps to prevent items from being sold after their listed "sell by" or "expiration dates."
CVS is required to provide coupons for $2.00 off any future purchase to any consumers who find expired products offered for sale at a CVS store in Pennsylvania, said Corbett. Those consumers must notify a CVS employee about the expired product and present the expired item to a store employee or cashier.
Additionally, Corbett said the settlement includes a $150,000 payment from CVS, which will be distributed by the attorney general's office to organizations that provide assistance to Pennsylvania families by distributing baby food, infant formula, dairy products and over the counter drugs. The AVC also includes $100,000 that will be used by the AG's office for future consumer protection and education activities.
Clearing the shelves
In addition, the settlement requires CVS to institute a system to ensure that expired products are not sold, including:
• Daily inspection of all dairy products at CVS stores.
• Regular inspections of other products and removal of items that are within 60 days of their expiration dates (This includes all items related to allergy treatment, baby feeding, children's remedies, cold remedies, oral hygiene products, pain relievers, stomach remedies and all other over the counter drugs that contain expiration dates).
• Prominent notices in all stores reminding customers to check the "sell by" and "expiration" dates, and to notify CVS employees immediately if customers find expired products.
• Automatic prompts in store cash register systems requiring cashiers to verify expiration dates before items can be sold (expired products may not be sold).
• Training and certification for all store managers and employees involved in stocking baby food, infant formula, dairy products and over the counter drugs.
• Regular audits of CVS stores to verify compliance with the settlement.
Consumers with questions or complaints concerning expired products at CVS stores in Pennsylvania should contact the Attorney General's Health Care Section at 1-877-888-4877 or file an online complaint using the attorney general's website.
White Tiger Recalls Folding Wooden Chairs08/19/2010ConsumerAffairs
White Tiger Recalls Folding Wooden Chairs...
White Tiger Traders Co. is recalling about 7,000 folding wooden chairs. The wooden frame of the chairs can break, posing a fall hazard to consumers.
The wooden frame of the chairs can break, posing a fall hazard to consumers.
The Kroger Co. and White Tiger have received three reports of chairs breaking, resulting in minor injuries including back and shoulder pain, sprains and contusions.
The chairs, made in China, were sold individually and as part of a three-piece set that included one table and two chairs. "HD Outdoor" is printed on the chair's packaging.
The chairs were sold at Kroger, Fred Meyer, Ralph's, Fry's, Smith's, Dillon's, Gerbes, City Market, and Baker's stores nationwide from February 2009 through December 2009 individually for about $50 and as part of the set that sold for about $130.
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled chairs and return them to the store where purchased for a full refund.
For additional information, contact Kroger at (800) 632-6900 between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET or visit the firm's website at www.kroger.com.
Powertec Recalls Leverage Gyms08/17/2010ConsumerAffairs
Powertec Recalls Leverage Gyms...
Powertec is recalling about 1,000 Leverage gyms. Detaching the exercise workbench from the gym system causes instability, posing a risk of injury to users.
This recall involves the Workbench Leverage Gym, 2010 version, which has a lock and load removable bench section opening up the lever area for power exercises such as squats, shrugs and rows. The gym has black upholstery and either a black or yellow frame. The Powertec logo with the Workbench series name is printed on the removable bench. The models affected by this recall are WB-LS10 and WB-LS10-B. . Workbench Levergyms with model numbers WB-LS10 and WB-LS10B sold after February 2010 are not affected by this recall.
The gyms, made in China, were sold by fitness equipment dealers nationwide and online at www.powertecfitness.com from October 2009 through February 2010 for about $850.
Customers should immediately stop using the product and contact Powertec to receive a free repair kit or to schedule a free repair with an authorized dealer. The firm has contacted all known purchasers of this product.
For additional information, call Powertec toll-free at (877) 525-5710 between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, email the firm at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the firm's website at www.powertecfitness.com.
Do Advertising Bans Deter Bad Habits In Youth?
Review of youth drinking and smoking studies shows little effectiveness08/17/2010ConsumerAffairs
Bans on alcohol and tobacco marketing are among the least effective tactics for combating underage drinking and smoking, a recent research review shows....
Bans on alcohol and tobacco marketing are among the least effective tactics for combating underage drinking and smoking, a recent research review shows.
"My conclusion is that the emphasis on advertising bans and similar regulations in the public health literature is misplaced," says Jon Nelson, professor emeritus of economics at Penn State. "More effective policies need to be sought to deal with issues of youthful risk-taking associated with alcohol and tobacco."
Among the deficiencies, Nelson reports that there were problems with how researchers selected people to participate in their studies and how they drew conclusions from the data they collected.
"The studies, in fact, are deficient in so many respects that the big question is whether there's any influence of marketing at all, especially the mass media," Nelson says.
Policy makers and advocacy groups use these studies to initiate and justify bans on alcohol and tobacco product advertising in order to lower the social costs associated with using these products and to promote youth health.
According to Nelson, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are among the organizations that uncritically cite these studies in their advocacy of tobacco and alcohol advertising bans.
Room for improvement
Nelson recommends several ways to improve studies on youth alcohol and tobacco behaviors. Researchers who explore advertising's influence on youth drinking and smoking should better identify why variables, such as peer and parental influences, are included in the study and choose variables that more effectively measure the exposure of alcohol and tobacco marketing in youth behavior.
In a recent review of 20 youth drinking studies and 26 youth smoking studies published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Nelson found that only 33 percent of the results were statistically significant in linking marketing with youth drinking.
He considered only 49 percent of the results significant on marketing and youth smoking behavior.
"These studies should be done against a well-defined scientific standard for an empirical investigation," says Nelson. "There is really no such thing as a perfect study, but the object should be to get closer to those acceptable standards."
Nelson identified longitudinal studies that measured the influence of a range of alcohol and tobacco marketing efforts including mass media, in-store displays, branded merchandise, movie portrayals, and brand recognition. The participant in a longitudinal study is interviewed or surveyed over two or more years.
Nelson looked at these studies in two categories -- youth drinking and youth smoking. Although these studies had common features, they were treated separately because they used slightly different models to explore advertising receptivity and exposure.
Nelson then offered critical assessments of the studies in each category, paying particular attention to the consistency of empirical results among the studies.
The review reinforced findings in Nelson's previous work. In 2001 and 2010 studies, he showed advertising bans in European countries did not reduce adult alcohol consumption. In 2003 and 2006 studies, he reported a similar finding for tobacco advertising bans.
Is Tylenol Good for Heartaches, Too?
Acetaminophen could help alleviate emotional pain, study finds08/16/2010ConsumerAffairs
A new study shows that acetaminophen -- an ingredient in the popular over-the-counter pain reliever Tylenol -- may relieve social pain from hurt feelings....
August 16, 2010
Everybody being mean to you? There may be a pill for that.
A new study shows that acetaminophen -- an ingredient in the popular over-the-counter pain reliever Tylenol -- may relieve social pain from hurt feelings.
The findings suggest for the first time that emotional and physical pain are interrelated, according to Gregory Webster, a University of Florida psychologist who wrote the study with a team of researchers.
"We think that social pain piggybacks onto physical pain and the two systems sort of bleed into each other, so that just as you feel emotional distress from physical pain, the social pain of having a romance breakup, or getting a horrible grade can translate into feeling sick to your stomach or getting a bad headache," he says.
In the study, to be published in the journal Psychological Science, people who took acetaminophen daily for three weeks reported less emotional suffering over time and showed less activity in regions of the brain previously shown to respond to social rejection than those who took the placebo, Webster says.
"Even so," he adds, "we don't want to tell people to go take Tylenol to cope with their personal problems until more research is done."
The findings, Webster believes, have the potential for acetaminophen to be used eventually to treat minor social pains instead of more powerful drugs. In addition, he says acetaminophen may show promise in curtailing antisocial behavior. Because research has found that being rejected triggers aggression, using acetaminophen to alleviate emotional distress could reduce the likelihood of destructive actions, he adds.
"The fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) results from our study show that acetaminophen diminished reactivity in regions of the brain that have been linked to emotional processing, which helps regulate aggression," he says.
The study's participants received fMRI during a computerized game of cyberball, which simulated social rejection. Each participant, accustomed to passing a ball with two computerized images of people who were ostensibly other participants, was suddenly excluded from the exchange as the others pass it back and forth.
"They were not given a reason why, which made it frustrating, which is exactly what we wanted to do," Webster explains. "We wanted to give them this feeling of being socially ostracized."
By random assignment, nearly half the participants, 24 women and six men, took a 500-mg pill of acetaminophen immediately after waking up each day and another 500-mg pill one hour before going to sleep, while 24 women and eight men took a placebo.
Each night the participants filled out a survey to assess their level of hurt feelings during the day.
Throughout the three weeks, those who took acetaminophen reported significantly fewer hurt feelings on average than participants in the placebo group, Webster says. In addition, they showed much less activity in areas of the brain linked with emotional feelings, such as hurt and rejection.
"The possibility of this link between physical and social pain systems is exciting because we live in a dualistic society where people see the mind and body as being very separate," Webster says. "In terms of public policy, it may indirectly support the notion that we should treat mental health issues the same way we treat physical health issues instead of having separate systems for the two."
The connection of mind and body to the extent that pain in one sphere can be transferred at least indirectly to another may have provided an evolutionary edge to our ancestors, he says.
Because humans have an extended infancy compared with many other animals in which they are unable to defend or feed themselves, developing social connections from an early age was crucial, Webster says.
As a result, humans' social attachment system may have developed by piggybacking onto the physical pain system and becoming an outgrowth of it in order to promote survival, he adds.
"Our findings have important implications because social exclusion is such a common part of life," he concludes. "People can feel ostracized at work, snubbed by friends, excluded by their partners or slighted in any number of situations."
Circus World Recalls Levana Wireless Video Baby Monitors08/12/2010ConsumerAffairs
Circus World Recalls Levana Wireless Video Baby Monitors...
Circus World Displays is recalling about 800 Levana wireless video baby monitors. Wiring in the camera can overheat and emit smoke, posing a burn hazard.
Circus World Displays has received two reports of the camera portion of the monitors overheating and smoking. No injuries have been reported.
This recall involves Levana wireless baby monitors with model number LV-TW300. The receiver front is white and green with six round buttons and the printed word "Levana". It is 7 inches tall and includes a stand/base. The camera is all white, about 5 inches tall and is attached to a 3 1/2 inch long white base. The camera can rotate and swivel in various directions. The camera and receiver each has its own A/C adapter.
The monitors, made in China, were sold at BB Buggy & Health and Safety stores nationwide and on the Internet between February 2010 and May 2010 for about $200.
Consumers should immediately stop using and return the baby monitor directly to CWD for a refund or replacement with a different model. When returning, please include the entire product, your complete name, mailing address and phone number in the package and mail to Circus World Displays Ltd, Attention: Adam Crysler, Dealer Returns Specialist, 60 Industrial Parkway Suite Z64, Cheektowaga, NY 14227
For additional information, contact Circus World Displays toll-free at (866) 946-7828 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or on the firm's website at www.mylevana.com.
P. Graham Dunn Recalls Toy Rattles08/11/2010ConsumerAffairs
P. Graham Dunn Recalls Toy Rattles...
The P. Graham Dunn Co. is recalling about 500 wooden rattles. The wooden dowels can be installed at an angle, allowing the metal rattle inside to become exposed. This poses a serious choking hazard to young children.
The firm is aware of four incidents of the metal rattle becoming exposed. No injuries have been reported.
This recall involves a wooden toy rattle with light brown stain, eight wooden dowels and a gold-colored metal rattle inside. The toy rattle is circular in shape, measuring 2 3/4 inches by 2 inches.
The rattles, made in China, were sold by gift stores and book retailers nationwide from June 2010 through July 2010 for about $6.
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled product and contact P. Graham Dunn to receive a full refund.
For additional information, contact P. Graham Dunn at (800) 828-5260 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or visit the firm's website at www.pgrahamdunn.com.
The recall involves all Model Year 2010 Arctic Cat 500 Sno Pro models. The model name and number are displayed on the side of the seat and on the engine cowling.
The snowmobiles were sold by Arctic Cat dealerships nationwide from October 2009 to February 2010 for between $7,800 and $8,200. They were made in the United States.
Consumers should stop using these snowmobiles immediately and contact their local Arctic Cat snowmobile dealer to schedule a free repair. Registered owners have been directly notified about this recall by mail.
For additional information, call Arctic Cat at (800) 279-6851 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or visit the firm's Web site at www.arctic-cat.com/
New York Expands Health Care Financing Probe
Relationship between health care providers and lenders explored08/10/2010ConsumerAffairs
New York Expands Health Care Financing Probe...
A week after launching an investigation into the marketing practices of GE Money's CreditCare credit card, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has expanded his probe of what he calls predatory health care lending.
Cuomo disclosed last week that his investigation found that some health care providers use fast-talking sales pitches to pressure and deceive consumers into applying for health care credit cards such as Chase Health Advance, Citi Health, and GE Money's CareCredit. The investigation also found that CareCredit pays kickbacks in the form of rebates to the providers based on how much business they charge consumers on CareCredit cards.
The investigation was based in part on hundreds of consumer complaints received by the attorney general's Office. Consumers reported that health care providers promised that the credit card had "no interest," when it often carried retroactive interest of over 25 percent if not paid in full during a promotional period.
Consumers were also unknowingly charged up front for services they never received, and their attempts to obtain refunds were often thwarted or ignored. Meanwhile, the credit card companies typically paid the health care providers in full within 48 hours of the charge, Cuomo said.
The investigation also found that CareCredit charges the providers a fee for the right to offer the cards, and then rebates part of the fee based on the amount of money the providers generated through CareCredit sales. This kickback arrangement, plus CareCredit's payment in full to providers within two days of the charge, creates an incentive for providers to push consumers to use CareCredit rather than other methods of payment. In fact, providers pushed CareCredit over cash.
Conflicts of interest
"Our ongoing investigation has uncovered conflicts of interest and predatory practices in the health care industry that are hurting New Yorkers and patients across the country," Cuomo said. "Patients are being misled into paying for services they never received by the people they should be able to trust the most -- their doctors. Doctors are supposed to represent patients, not credit card companies, no matter what kind of kickbacks they are offered."
Cuomo issued subpoenas to 14 dental and health care clinics that promote CareCredit, as well as to GE's CareCredit, Chase Health Advance, and Citi Health Card. The subpoenas seek marketing materials, applications, terms of credit, contracts and rebate agreements, policies and procedures, consumer complaints, and regulatory inquiries. The investigation continues.
In addition to the 14 subpoenas, Cuomo has written letters to a number of medical organizations that promote CareCredit or other health care financing cards. The letters, asking why they endorse these credit products, were sent to the American Dental Association, American College of Eye Surgeons, and American Hearing Aid Associates, among others.
CareCredit is accepted by more than 125,000 health care practices nationwide. The New York State Dental Association asserts that more than eight million dental patients and 80,000 dental practices use CareCredit nationwide.
The credit card is advertised as a way to pay for services often
not covered by insurance, including:
Weight loss procedures
In recent years, Cuomo says, his office received hundreds of complaints from consumers indicating they were lured and misled by providers into applying for, accepting, and using health care credit cards.
Goldstar, Comfort-Aire Dehumidifier Recall Repeated08/10/2010ConsumerAffairs
Goldstar, Comfort-Aire Dehumidifier Recall Repeated...
Consumers are being warned that refurbished BlackBerry cell phones may contain counterfeit batteries that could overheat, causing burn and fire hazards.
The Asurion Company of Smyrna, Tenn., said about 470,000 cell phones may have counterfeit batteries. The company has received two reports of batteries overheating, causing minor burns to a consumer's finger and minor property damage to a sofa and car seat.
This recall involves only BlackBerry-branded batteries provided with refurbished Blackberry-branded devices. The refurbished devices were sent to consumers by Asurion through a handset protection program.
The batteries were used across virtually all models of refurbished BlackBerry devices distributed by Asurion prior to November 1, 2009. Genuine Blackberry-branded batteries are not included in this recall. No other Asurion or BlackBerry products are involved in this recall.
Consumers who received refurbished BlackBerry devices through Asurion prior to November 1, 2009 should immediately stop using the product and contact Asurion for a replacement product. Asurion is directly contacting known consumers with the affected batteries to notify them of this recall.
For more information, contact Asurion toll-free at (866) 384-9175 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's website at www.001batex.com.
Honda Recalls 2010 Element Models to Fix Gear Position Indicator08/10/2010ConsumerAffairs
Honda Recalls 2010 Element Models to Fix Gear Position Indicator...
Honda is recalling about 585 2010 Elements to fix a problem with the automatic transmission gear position indicator.
The company said that because of a problem during assembly, the transmission may not be in the gear selected by the driver.
Dealers will correctly set the shift cable bushing. Some owners have already been contacted by telephone.
Owners may contact Honda at 1-800-999-1009.
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.
Tattooing Linked To Hepatitis C Risk
Thirty-six percent of Americans under 30 have a tattoo08/08/2010ConsumerAffairs
Tattooing Linked To Hepatitis C Risk...
Tattoos were once the indulgence of sailors and prison inmates, but these days permanent ink decorating various body parts has become a part of popular culture. But perhaps not a healthy part.
A new University of British Columbia study suggests people with multiple tattoos that cover large parts of their bodies are at higher risk of contracting hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases.
The researchers reviewed and analyzed 124 studies from 30 countries, including Canada, Iran, Italy, Brazil and the United States, and found the incidence of hepatitis C after tattooing is directly linked with the number of tattoos an individual receives. The findings are published in the current issue of the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.
In the U.S., an estimated 36 percent of people under 30 have tattoos. In Canada, approximately eight per cent of high school students have at least one tattoo and 21 per cent of those who don't have one want one. During tattooing, the skin is punctured 80 to 150 times a second in order to inject color pigments.
"Since tattoo instruments come in contact with blood and bodily fluids, infections may be transmitted if instruments are used on more than one person without being sterilized or without proper hygiene techniques," said lead author Dr. Siavash Jafari, a Community Medicine Resident in the UBC School of Population and Public Health (SPPH).
"Furthermore, tattoo dyes are not kept in sterile containers and may play a carrier role in transmitting infections," said Jafari. "Clients and the general public need to be educated on the risks associated with tattooing, and tattoo artists need to discuss harms with clients."
HIV also a risk
Other risks of tattooing identified by the study include allergic reactions, HIV, hepatitis B, bacterial or fungal infections, and other risks associated with tattoo removal.
The researchers are calling for infection-control guidelines for tattoo artists and clients, and enforcement of these guidelines through inspections, reporting of adverse events and record-keeping. They also recommend prevention programs that focus on youth the population who are most likely to get tattoos and prisoners who face a higher prevalence of hepatitis C to lower the spread of hepatitis infection.
In Canada, 12 to 25 per cent of hepatitis C infections among prisoners are associated with tattooed individuals, compared to six per cent of the general population.
Reducing Portions and Eating Healthier Key To Controlling Weight
American diet has become larger and less healthy over time08/06/2010ConsumerAffairsBy Mark Huffman
Reducing Portions and Eating Healthier Key To Controlling Weight...
Sun-baked tourists by the hundreds jam into Benjamin's Calabash Restaurant in Myrtle Beach, S.C., each evening, drawn by the establishment's 171 item buffet. On any given night, patrons paying $28 a head will make multiple trips to the buffet to make sure they get their money's worth.
Chances are good they will also leave after consuming enough calories to last a couple of days.
Restaurants offering "all you can eat" are popular with many consumers, but may be one of the reasons America has a weight problem. When there is no limit to what we can consume, we tend to lose all sense of proportion. How much should we be eating on a daily basis? How much is too much?
Health experts tend to agree that the problem lies in two areas; Americans eat portions that are significantly greater than they need for nourishment and they tend to eat too much unhealthy food. Often, we do it without thinking about it.
So, if we tend to eat too much, how much should we be eating each day? Dr. Mary Lou Gavin, Medical Editor at KidsHealth.org, says it all depends on your age, gender, height and weight, and activity level.
"In general, I don't recommend counting calories but it may be helpful for people to have some idea what their caloric requirements are," Gavin told ConsumerAffairs.com.
There are a number of calorie calculators online, where you can get an idea of how much food you should be consuming on a daily basis. For example, a male, age 59, 5 feet, 11 inches tall, weighing 175 pounds and getting moderate exercise can -- according to one calculator -- consume 2200 calories a day to maintain weight and 1800 calories to lose fat.
"The MyPyramid website is a good resource to find out an estimate of calories and it also provides a food plan that breaks it down into servings of each particular food group, Gavin said. "Planning meals with food groups in mind is a more practical approach than counting calories on a daily basis."
Portion size, of course, is a big part of healthy meal planning. That's where vigilance is required while shopping. Portions of food -- especially packaged food -- tend to be larger than they were a few years ago.
As an example, the average bagel had a three inch diameter 20 years ago and had 140 calories. Today, bagels are normally six inches in diameter and have about 350 calories, with half of a person's recommended number of grain servings for the day.
Some consumer advocates blame the food industry for feeding America's appetite, as restaurants try to outdo one another in offering huge servings. Gavin says competition may play some role in consumers' growing appetites as they tend to perceive greater value in a generous helping. Businesses, too, see an advantage in serving up giant sized portions.
"The original notion was that there is a higher profit margin with larger portions," she said. "That idea may have come full circle as food companies have found a way to make money off of portion controlled packages."
When you add excessive amounts of fat, sweetener and sodium to the excessive portions of food we eat, the health problems are compounded. In its recent list of the Top Ten Worst Foods, the Center For Science In the Public Interest (CSPI) selected Marie Callender's (16.5 oz) Chicken Pot Pie. The nutrition label notes it has 520 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat, and 800 mg of sodium.
But upon closer inspection, you will see that the pie is actually two serving portions. In other words, one person should eat only half the pot pie.
But who eats half a pot pie? Eat the entire pie, as most people probably do, and you're consuming 1,040 calories, 22 grams of saturated fat, and 1,600 mg of sodium, which equals an entire day's worth.
What makes the list of the 10 best foods? Not surprisingly, these foods tend not to come in a box, bag, can or wrapper. The sweet potato tops the list. CSPI calls it "a nutritional all-star," noting it's loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.
"Bake and then mix in some unsweetened applesauce or crushed pineapple for extra moisture and sweetness," CSPI suggests.
Mangos and watermelon also make the "best food" list.
Stick with plants
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have published their own healthy eating pyramid, echoing CSPI's endorsement of fresh fruit and vegetables as a dietary mainstay.
"Go with plants," the researchers advise. "Eating a plant-based diet is healthiest. Choose plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats, like olive and canola oil."
Change may not come overnight, as some habits die hard. But Gavin offers a tip for both controlling portions and eating healthier, something she calls the divided plate.
"Think of your plate divided in four equal sections," Gavin said. "Half the plate is for fruits and/or vegetables, one quarter is for protein foods, the remaining quarter of the plate is for starchy foods."
When eating out, look for restaurants that provide nutritional information, and choose something healthy from the menu. At the grocery store, look past claims -- such as low fat or whole grain -- and look at the nutrition facts label and ingredient list to see the nutritional value of the food as a whole.
Belle Vanity Benches Recalled08/05/2010ConsumerAffairs
Belle Vanity Benches Recalled...
LaMont Limited is recalling about 1,900 Belle vanity benches sold at Tuesday Morning stores. Legs on the bench can detach at the weld and allow the bench to collapse, posing a fall hazard to consumers.
LaMont has received two reports of a leg on the vanity bench detaching at the weld, causing the consumer to fall and sustain minor bruising.
This recall involves Belle vanity benches with a scroll design and padded seat. The wrought iron vanity bench is about 21 3/4 inches from floor to top of rail. The padded seat has an 18 3/4 inch wide off-white damask cover.
The benches, made in China, were sold at Tuesday Morning stores nationwide from May 2010 through June 2010 for about $70.
Consumers should immediately stop using the Belle vanity benches and return the product to any Tuesday Morning store for a refund. Consumers can also mail the product directly to LaMont for a refund. Consumers returning the product to LaMont should include in the package, the bench, name, mailing address and phone number. The package should be sent to LaMont Limited, Customer Service, 1530 North Bluff Road, Burlington, Iowa 52601.
For additional information, contact Tuesday Morning at (800) 457-0099 or LaMont at (800) 553-5261 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's website at www.shop.tuesdaymorning.com.
Diet Supplement 'Potentially Lethal,' Suit Says
Latest lawsuit calling Jillian Michaels's diet pills 'bogus'08/05/2010ConsumerAffairsBy Jon Hood
Diet Supplement 'Potentially Lethal,' Suit Says...
A Jillian Michaels diet supplement is again the subject of controversy -- this time in the form of a lawsuit claiming that the product contains a "potentially lethal combination of toxic ingredients."
The suit, filed in Los Angeles by a woman identified only as R.D., concerns Michaels's Triple Process Total Body Detox & Cleanse diet supplement, according to TMZ.com. Among the "toxic ingredients" singled out by the suit are Irish moss powder, which the complaint says causes gastrointestinal ulcers; bearberry, which it says can spur nausea and vomiting; Chinese rhubarb, which is labeled a "dangerous diuretic"; and yarrow, a lawn weed that is allegedly linked to dermatitis.
R.D.'s suit is only the latest in a line taking issue with a Michaels-endorsed product. A class action filed in February called the Jillian Michaels Maximum Strength Calorie Control supplement "worthless," taking issue with Michaels's claims that the supplement would "restrict your caloric intake automatically" and was "like an automatic diet."
Instead, lead plaintiff Christie Christensen found that, shockingly, "her appetite did not decrease, her caloric intake was not automatically restricted, and she did not lose any weight." Christensen apparently believed Michaels's claim that "when you take this compound before main meals, you eat less...but the best part is, you won't even know it."
Another suit, also filed in February, said the Jillian Michaels Maximum Strength Fat Burner contained ingredients that mix to form a "toxic cocktail." Interestingly, that suit also used the phrase "potentially lethal" -- this time with reference to citrus aurantium, an ingredient that it alleged poses cardiac risks.
The very fact that Michaels's name is on the bottle means that her dietary supplements carry extra weight. She was a personal trainer on the hit show The Biggest Loser, in which severely overweight contestants compete to see who can lose the most weight. Her website brands her "America's TOUGHEST trainer" and "one of the leading health and wellness experts in the country." She goes on to claim that "[e]very week she motivates nearly 15 million TV viewers, approximately 2 million subscribers to her Web site and daily e-mail newsletter, and many more radio listeners."
Michaels holds a special sway over consumers struggling with their weight due to her own obesity as a child. Indeed, she claims on her site to have a "unique connection" with Biggest Loser viewers.
R.D. alleges that Michaels and Thin Care International, which markets and promotes the product, "actively and fraudulently" conspired to hide the risks posed by the supplement. She is seeking more than $10 million in damages.
New Food Safety Bill Targets E. Coli
Would impose tougher restrictions on slaughterhouses08/05/2010ConsumerAffairsBy Mark Huffman
With comprehensive food safety legislation bogged down in the Senate, a member of the House has introduced a new bill to deal with a single aspect of food ...
With comprehensive food safety legislation bogged down in the Senate, a member of the House has introduced a new bill to deal with a single aspect of food safety -- E. coli.
Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the E. coli Traceability and Eradication Act. She says the measure would require stricter testing procedures for meat and processing facilities with the goal of eradicating the dangerous Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria, and establishing a tracking procedure that would enable the USDA to implement faster recalls should any be found to be contaminated.
Shiga toxin-producing E. coli are bacterial pathogens similar to E. coli O157, the most commonly known and reported strain. It causes the same type of illness, and can be found in processed meat, ground beef, and can be transferred to other food products such as packaged lettuce.
The Food Safety and Modernization Act, which would give the Food and Drug Administration expanded authority to deal with a wide range of food safety and public health issues, has passed the House but remains stalled in the Senate.
DeLauro says by implementing stricter and more comprehensive testing of meat, slaughterhouses, and grinding facilities, her bill would ensure that the U.S. food supply is safer. The bill would require that these facilities test ground beef and beef trim multiple times throughout the manufacturing process by an independent, USDA-certified testing facility, including 'beef trim,' leftover pieces from larger cuts of meat commonly used in ground beef, that have not previously been subject to analysis.
Should any facilities be producing products that are unsafe for either three consecutive days or ten days throughout a year, their company name will be posted to a list of safety offenders with the USDA. Additionally, the legislation creates a tracing protocol that would enable the USDA to track any contaminated meat or meat products, leading to faster recalls and less hazard to consumers. For facilities that are found to be producing contaminated meat, the USDA will test their products for 15 consecutive days following the positive test.
"By the end of this year, an estimated 57,000 people will have been made ill from E. coli, which represents an astounding failure on the part of our food safety system," DeLauro said. "We must do more to address the dangers American consumers face on a daily basis from these hidden killers, and ensure that the food entering the marketplace, our homes, and even our schools, is safe."
DeLauro says the legislation will require rigorous new testing standards, calling for multiple examinations of products and specifically testing for all Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria. And should test results reveal E. coli contamination, the bill would require slaughter facilities to report it to USDA immediately.
"Also, because this bill will require processors to test incoming beef trim, it would cease the current industry practice of processors being blackballed by their suppliers," DeLauro said.
When E. coli is detected at a facility, the measure would require USDA to establish a traceback procedure all the way back to the original source of the contamination. This will allow USDA to recall products more quickly and prevent additional illnesses during an outbreak.
"Our current food safety system is not doing its job, contaminated meat is still hitting the shelves, and people are still getting sick," DeLauro said.
Kawasaki Off-Road Motorcycles Recalled08/05/2010ConsumerAffairs
Kawasaki Off-Road Motorcycles Recalled...
Kawasaki is recalling about 4,000 2010 KLX110 off-road motorcycles. A faulty housing for the ignition switch can allow water to enter and activate the electric starter unintentionally. This poses a serious hazard of injury or death.
This recall involves Kawasaki 2010 model year KLX110CAF and KLX110DAF off-road motorcycles. They were sold in green and have Kawasaki written on the sides of the fuel tank.
The motorcycles, made in Thailand, were sold by Kawasaki dealers nationwide from August 2009 through February 2010 for about $2,100.
Consumers should stop using these vehicles immediately and contact a local Kawasaki Motorcycle dealer to schedule an appointment for a free repair. The company has attempted to contact all known users.
For more information, consumers can contact Kawasaki toll-free at (866) 802-9381 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's website at www.kawasaki.com.
Bed Bath & Beyond Recalls Solar Umbrellas08/03/2010ConsumerAffairs
Bed Bath & Beyond is recalling about 7,600 solar-lighted umbrellas. A plastic connector which attaches to the arm of the umbrella can break, causing the......
Bed Bath & Beyond is recalling about 7,600 solar-lighted umbrellas. A plastic connector which attaches to the arm of the umbrella can break, causing the umbrella to collapse.
The firm has received 21 reports of units collapsing. Minor injuries were reported in three of those incidents including a bruise, abrasion and nausea.
The recalled product is a 13-foot Solar Lighted Cantilever Umbrella. The umbrella has tan or chocolate colored material, lights and a black supporting pole. The UPC numbers are 444444550439 (tan) and 444444583963 (chocolate) and can be found on the product packaging. The model numbers are 8070C-S and 8070C-L and can be found on the assembly and operating instruction that were enclosed with the product packaging.
The umbrellas, made in China, were sold at Bed Bath & Beyond stores and online at www.bedbathandbeyond.com and www.bedbathandbeyond.ca from February 2010 through June 2010 for about $300.
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled product and return it to any Bed Bath & Beyond location for a full refund.For additional information, contact Bed Bath & Beyond toll-free at (800) 462-3966, 24 hours a day, seven days a week or visit the firm's website at www.bedbathandbeyond.com and www.bedbathandbeyond.ca.
P&G Expands Dry Pet Food Recall
Certain Iams, Eukanuba products could be contaminated with salmonella08/03/2010ConsumerAffairs
Continued concerns over salmonella contamination have prompted an Ohio company to expand its previous recall to include some Iams and Eukanuba dry dog and ...
Continued concerns over salmonella contamination have prompted an Ohio company to expand its previous recall to include some Iams and Eukanuba dry dog and cat foods.
The Procter & Gamble company (P&G) said it's taking the action because the pet food has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning.
The company -- which makes Iams and Eukanuba products -- said it has not received any reports of illnesses linked to the recalled foods.
The expanded recall includes the following Iams and Eukanuba products:
|Product Name||Version||"Best-By" Dates||UPC Code|
|Iams Veterinary Dry Formulas||All dry sizes and varieties||01Jul10 - 01Dec11||All UPC Codes|
|Eukanuba Naturally Wild||All dry sizes and varieties||01Jul10 - 01Dec11||All UPC Codes|
|Eukanuba Pure||All dry sizes and varieties||01Jul10 - 01Dec11||All UPC Codes|
|Eukanuba Custom Care Sensitive Skin||All dry sizes||01Jul10 - 01Dec11||All UPC Codes|
The company sold the recalled foods in veterinary clinics and specialty pet stores in the United States and Canada.
These products are made in a single, specialized facility, the company said in a written statement. In cooperation with FDA, P&G determined that some products made at this facility have the potential for salmonella contamination. As a precautionary measure, P&G is recalling all products made at this facility.
Pet owners who purchased the recalled foods should immediately discard the products, the company said.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said pet owners could become infected with salmonella if they handle the recalled foods especially if they dont wash their hands after touching surfaced exposed to the products.
Symptoms of salmonella infections in healthy people include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever, the FDA said. In rare cases, salmonella can cause arterial infections, arthritis, muscle pain, and other serious health problems.
Pets with salmonella infections may have decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain, the FDA said. If the infections are not treated, pets can become lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting.
The FDA also warned that infected -- but otherwise healthy -- pets can spread salmonella to other animals or people.
Consumers with dogs or cats that ate the recalled foods should contact their veterinarians if their pets experience any of these symptoms, the FDA said.
For more information about this expanded recall or a refund pet owners can contact P&G at 877-340-8823.
Pottery Barn Kids Recalls Madeline Bunk Beds08/03/2010ConsumerAffairs
Pottery Barn Kids Recalls Madeline Bunk Beds...
Pottery Barn Kids is recalling about 400 Madeline bunk beds. The end structure of the bunk bed can pose an entrapment hazard to young children, a violation of federal safety standards. Children can get their necks caught in the opening between the post and the decorative molding.
This recall involves Madeline bunk beds. The bed is white and is made of wood and medium-density fiberboard. It has guardrails on either side of the top bunk and a ladder that attaches to the side of the beds.
The beds, made in Vietnam, were sold at Pottery Barn Kids stores, catalog and www.potterybarnkids.com from July 2009 to March 2010 for $1,400.
Consumers should immediately stop using the bed and contact Pottery Barn Kids to schedule installation of a free repair kit.
For additional information, contact Pottery Barn Kids toll-free at (888) 779-8692 between 7 a.m. and midnight PT seven days a week or visit the company's website at www.potterybarnkids.com.
Actor's Accutane Lawsuit To Be Tried This Week
'A Few Good Men' star says he lost colon to drug08/03/2010ConsumerAffairsBy Jon Hood
A lawsuit filed by a Hollywood actor against the manufacturer of Accutane is set to go to trial this week, promising to drag the troubled acne drug back in...
A lawsuit filed by a Hollywood actor against the manufacturer of Accutane is set to go to trial this week, promising to drag the troubled acne drug back into the spotlight.
James Marshall, perhaps best known for his roles in the movie "A Few Good Men" and the TV series "Twin Peaks," says the drug caused bowel problems so serious that he eventually had to get his colon removed. Marshall filed the suit against Roche Holding AG, which has manufactured Accutane since its debut in 1982.
Several well-known actors are set to testify at the trial, including Martin Sheen, Rob Reiner, and Brian Dennehy. Their testimony will focus on Marshall's potential as an actor and the ordeal's negative effect on his earning capacity.
Indeed, Marshall's attorney, Michael Hook, plans to argue that the drug ruined Marshall's entire career.
"The jury will hear that James Marshall had the potential to be the next James Dean-like star," Hook said. "That dream is gone because he took something to treat acne."
Many similar suits
Marshall's suit is hardly the first alleging bowel problems stemming from the use of Accutane; Roche is facing 1,000 similar suits in a number of jurisdictions. In all seven of the cases that have been tried to a verdict, the jury has ruled against Roche, and the company is already on the hook for $56 million in damages.
One of those cases, which wrapped up in February, was tried in the New Jersey Superior Court, the same forum where Marshall's case is being heard. The plaintiff in that case, Andrew McCarrell, also blamed Accutane for the loss of his colon, the end result of five surgeries for irritable bowel syndrome.
In that case, Roche ended up doubling down and losing big: McCarrell secured a $2.6 million verdict in 2007, which was thrown out after Roche appealed. The case was retried, and this time the jury said McCarrell was entitled to over $25 million.
Links to depression, birth defects
Accutane has been linked to other disturbing phenomena, including a high suicide rate among teenage users and birth defects in babies born to women taking the drug. In 2002, 15-year-old Accutane user Charles Bishop flew an airplane into a building in Florida, killing himself. His mother sued Roche, alleging that Accutane was to blame for Bishop's instability. She dropped the suit in 2007, saying it was too emotionally draining.
The drug's connection with birth defects and miscarriages has also given consumers pause. In 2005, the Food and Drug Administration implemented a program that required both doctors and patients to agree to certain responsibilities before the drug could be prescribed.
The program is administered through the website iPLEDGE , which "strives to ensure that no female patient starts isotretinoin therapy if pregnant, [and] no female patient on isotretinoin therapy becomes pregnant."
2008 Infiniti QX56, Nissan Armada Recalled to Fix A-Pillar Problem08/02/2010ConsumerAffairs
2008 Infiniti QX56, Nissan Armada Recalled to Fix A-Pillar Problem...
Nissan North America is recalling certain 2008 Infiniti QX56s and 2008 Nissan Armadas.
The vehicles fail to comply with federal passenger protection regulations. An A-pillar finisher could impede the inflation of the side curtain air bag, federal safety regulators said.
Dealers will replace the pillar finishers free of charge when the recall begins. The company has not yet provided a timetable.
Owners may contact Nissan at 1-800-647-7261.
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.
Food Safety At Sports Arenas Found Lacking
Today's exotic menu could be recipe for trouble08/02/2010ConsumerAffairs
Food Safety At Sports Arenas Found Lacking: The sports network has just published an eye-opening report on food safety at North American sports venues....
By Mark Huffman
August 2, 2010
Cable TV sports network ESPN is best known for covering a late-season pennant race or following the latest Terrell Owens drama, but the sports network has just published an eye-opening report on food safety at North American sports venues.
The ESPN program "Outside The Lines" conducted a review of health department inspection reports for all 107 stadiums and arenas that hosted Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League teams in 2009. The review found 30 venues had at least one major health citation during the year.
For example, health inspectors found mold in ice machines at Miller Park in Milwaukee, a cockroach crawling over a soda dispenser at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh and food service employees ignoring the "wash your hands" signs at Ford Field in Detroit. Fans lining up to spend $7 for hot dog or $6 for a slice of pizza were clueless.
"It tells consumers that they should be very concerned about some of the food that they are eating and purchasing in a lot of these stadiums," Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), told ESPN.
Food has long been a key part of watching a sporting event. The song "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," references peanuts and Crackerjacks in its third line. Today, fans might be better off sticking to a food that comes in its own shell, or a candy snack that comes in a box or wrapper.
Stick with the peanuts
But stadium food vendors sell a lot more than peanuts and crackerjacks these days, and ESPN notes that might be part of the problem. Today's fans expect to chow down on a burger and fries, a rack of ribs, or even -- of all things -- a plate of sushi. Preparing that wide variety of food and keeping it fresh and sanitary until sold is a major challenge for vendors.
ESPN asked Dr. Robert Buchanan, director of the University of Maryland's Center for Food Safety and Security Systems, to review their findings.
"That number [the 30 venues with a majority of food establishments having critical violations], based on comparisons of the data I've been able to find on restaurants in general, is substantially higher than I would have expected," he told the network. "Certainly, if you have a high rate of facilities within a stadium coming up with critical deficiencies, that to me strikes of systemic errors in either management of the stadium or in the infrastructure of the stadium, and both of them need to be corrected."
Food safety rules, of course, are designed to prevent people from getting sick from bad food. And while the potential exists for a widespread foodborne illness outbreak from bad stadium food, it simply hasn't happened yet. However, it doesn't mean that bad food has never made anyone sick.
Some players and coaches, who often depend on a stadium food vendor for last minute nourishment, have reported getting sick from eating tainted stadium food. Perhaps the most celebrated case was last fall, when Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona got food poisoning before an American League playoff game in Anaheim, Calif,. Francona blamed his illness on the sushi he ordered and ate in the clubhouse just before the game.
Serious Harm Tied To Drinking Miracle Mineral Solution
Product contains industrial strength bleach, FDA says08/02/2010ConsumerAffairs
Serious Harm Tied To Drinking Miracle Mineral Solution ...
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers not to take Miracle Mineral Solution, an oral liquid also known as "Miracle Mineral Supplement" or "MMS."
The product, when used as directed, produces an industrial bleach that can cause serious harm to health.
The FDA has received several reports of health injuries from consumers using this product, including severe nausea, vomiting, and life-threatening low blood pressure from dehydration. Consumers who have MMS should stop using it immediately and throw it away, FDA says.
MMS is distributed on Internet sites and online auctions by multiple independent distributors. Although the products share the MMS name, the look of the labeling may vary.
The product instructs consumers to mix the 28 percent sodium chlorite solution with an acid such as citrus juice. This mixture produces chlorine dioxide, a potent bleach used for stripping textiles and industrial water treatment. High oral doses of this bleach, such as those recommended in the labeling, can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and symptoms of severe dehydration.
MMS claims to treat multiple unrelated diseases, including HIV, hepatitis, the H1N1 flu virus, common colds, acne, cancer, and other conditions. The FDA is not aware of any research that MMS is effective in treating any of these conditions. MMS also poses a significant health risk to consumers who may choose to use this product for self-treatment instead of seeking FDA-approved treatments for these conditions.
The FDA continues to investigate and may pursue civil or criminal enforcement actions as appropriate to protect the public from this potentially dangerous product.
Consumers who have experienced any negative side effects from MMS are advised to consult a health care professional as soon as possible and to discard the product. Consumers and health care professionals should report adverse events to the FDA's MedWatch program at 800-FDA-1088 or online.
2003-2007 Lexus LX470 Recalled to Fix Steering Problem08/02/2010ConsumerAffairs
2003-2007 Lexus LX470 Recalled to Fix Steering Problem...
Volvo is recalling 2007-2010 S80 models to fix a problem with the tire pressure monitoring system.
Federal safety regulators said the owner's manual has an incorrect maximum permissible inflation pressure and the tire pressure monitoring system software has an incorrect trigger level.
Dealers will update the vehicles with a new label and new software.
Owners may contact Volvo at 1-800-458-1552.
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.
2003-2007 Lexus LX470 Recalled to Fix Steering Problem08/02/2010ConsumerAffairs
2003-2007 Lexus LX470 Recalled to Fix Steering Problem...
Toyota is recalling nearly 40,000 Lexus LX470 models to fix a problem with the steering shaft.
Safety regulators said a snap ring on the shaft may disengage under impact, possibly resulting in a loss of steering control.
Dealers will replace the snap ring with a newly-designed one and install an additional component to prevent separation of the steering shaft. The recall is expected to begin during August 2010.
Owners may contact Lexus at 1-800-255-3987.