The Checkout

Archive: August 2008

Raw Mexican Jalapeno and Serrano Peppers are Safe to Eat Again

So the salmonella saintpaul outbreak of 2008 is over. That is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration just got done telling reporters. Because the illnesses have tapered off and because potentially contaminated jalapeno and serrano peppers are no longer in circulation in U.S. markets, FDA also lifted its warning against raw Mexican jalapeno and serrano peppers. It was a bit of an anticlimactic ending to the biggest salmonella outbreak in a decade. No wild pigs to blame--yet. The FDA's field investigation in Mexico is over but the agency is still analyzing what...

By Annys Shin | August 28, 2008; 1:01 PM ET | Comments (1)

Naked for a Cause

Some companies donate money to their favorite causes. Others put their CEO on the boards of important nonprofits or organize their staff for a volunteer day. Beauty retailer Lush asked their employees to get naked. Oh, we are so there. The premise is that excess packaging is bad for the environment because it uses precious resources and wastes space in delivery trucks, which in turn wastes fuel. Lush bills itself as a "deli-style" beauty bar that sells soaps, shampoos, even deodorant in solid form and unwrapped -- aka naked -- which the company says makes the products more environmentally friendly....

By Ylan Mui | August 27, 2008; 4:48 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Politics of Shopping

Everyone wants a little piece of the political action these days, even retailers. Two interesting releases came across my inbox the other day. (None of which had any real inside info. For that, head to The Trail!) But they did offer some insights into what your credit card statement might say about your voting record. According to BIGresearch, which studies consumer behavior, people who drink Starbucks coffee favor Obama (44 percent) over McCain (37.8 percent), giving some credence to the term "latte liberals." However, if you head to McDonald's for your morning cup o' joe (and perhaps a well-done sausage...

By Ylan Mui | August 22, 2008; 5:06 PM ET | Comments (0)

Pay Attention to Source of Your 401(k) advice

You may not think this U.S. Department of Labor move affects you all that much, but it will. The agency has announced the Aug. 22 publication in the Federal Register of two proposed rules under the Pension Protection Act. Both rules would govern how you can get investment advice when you're trying to figure out what to do with your 401(k)-type retirement plan or your Individual Retirement Account. Yes, there are rules for that. There have to be. Back in the day, most Americans had company-sponsored pensions to look forward to. Those gave employees no options on investments. Now more...

By Nancy Trejos | August 21, 2008; 7:53 PM ET | Comments (0)

Mom's Says No More Evian

News flash: Another retailer chain shrinks its carbon footprint -- and yours. This time, it's by banning imported bottled water from its shelves. Score another hanging chad-less point for Al Gore. No, it's not Wal-Mart. Or even Whole Foods Market. It's Rockville, Md. based MOM's - My Organic Market - with five stores in the DC metro area. On Tuesday, MOM's put out a press release subtitled "Local Organic Grocery Store Forgoes Profit in Favor of the Environment." Modest. I like it. "Once we thought about the amount of energy, oil, and water that go into producing, shipping, and disposing...

By Annys Shin | August 21, 2008; 7:05 AM ET | Comments (15)

Product Safety Reform Becomes Law Today

Today, President Bush has put pen to paper and -- voila! -- the product safety reform legislation becomes law. It is not a public signing, which is too bad. I personally want to see yet another lawmaker brandishing Thomas the Tank Engine and Dora the Explorer as if they were hand grenades. Also, I will now lose track of how many children and grandchildren various members of Congress have because they will now stop prefacing their opening statements with an updated tally. Without a public signing ceremony, we'll just have to be satisfied with the enrollment ceremony that congressional leaders...

By Annys Shin | August 14, 2008; 10:36 AM ET | Comments (1)

An Emptier Mailbox

Have you noticed that there are fewer credit card offers arriving in your mailbox lately? If so, you're not alone. According to global market research firm Synovate, which has an ongoing Mail Monitor survey, mailed credit card offers during the second quarter of 2008 were down 17 percent from the same time period last year. In fact, card mail volume was the lowest it's been since the fourth quarter of 2003, the survey found. Andrew Davidson, vice president of Competitive Tracking Services for Synovate's Financial Services Group, attributes it to ongoing concerns about the economy and the exposure many card...

By Nancy Trejos | August 12, 2008; 6:37 PM ET | Comments (0)

Holy Cow! Whole Foods Linked to E. coli Outbreak

To bring you up to speed, news broke over the weekend that Whole Foods Market has been swept up in Nebraska Beef's second beef recall of the summer. [Full disclosure: the hub used to work at a Whole Foods many years ago selling cheese and we spend copious amounts of money there every week, especially on Mum-Mums] Nebraska Beef, an Omaha meat packer, has been linked to two separate outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 in the past two months. The first triggered a ground beef recall by Kroger's supermarkets. The second outbreak kicked off a ground beef recall by Dorothy...

By Annys Shin | August 11, 2008; 11:54 AM ET | Comments (53)

Costco Cautions Against Mercury

Costco is the latest retailer to agree to post signs at its seafood counters with the FDA's warnings about consuming mercury in seafood. The move comes after customer requests and an active campaign by environmental advocacy group Oceana. Oceana began its campaign in 2005 and so far has signed up nearly 6,400 grocery stores at several major chains, including Whole Foods, Harris Teeter and Safeway. The FDA's guidance says women who may become pregnant, who are pregnant or who are nursing should stay away from swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel and limit consumption of albacore tuna and tuna steaks...

By Ylan Mui | August 11, 2008; 7:01 AM ET | Comments (4)

An Overwhelming Response

Here's an update on the Federal Reserve's proposal to crackdown on "unfair and deceptive" credit card practices: Yesterday was the deadline for submitting public comments about the proposal, which would ban such practices as arbitrarily raising interest rates, charging interest on debt that has been repaid and assessing late fees when consumers are not given a reasonable amount of time to make a payment. The agency, which has proposed the new rules along with the Office of Thrift Supervision and the National Credit Union Administration, received almost 16,000 comments, and another 27,000 form letters that it is not posting on...

By Nancy Trejos | August 5, 2008; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

Balducci's Goes International

The next chapter in the Balducci's saga takes place overseas. The gourmet grocer that built a following for its 10 stores along the East Coast plans to open its first international location in Dubai at the end of next month. The store is being built in partnership with developer Nakheel Retail in the Mall of Dubai, and the company hopes it will be the first of several locations in the bustling, wealthy region. Gee, Penn Quarter -- where Balducci's had an on-again/off-again relationship with a site -- just doesn't have the same ring to it. Looks like residents will need...

By Ylan Mui | August 5, 2008; 7:03 AM ET | Comments (0)

Credit Card Bill Passes One Hurdle

For a while last night, it seemed that Rep. Carolyn Maloney's bill proposing a crackdown on the credit card industry was doomed. Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) was pushing an amendment that would kill the bill and substitute a congressional resolution in support of the Federal Reserve's proposal to rein in "unfair and deceptive" credit card practices, such as arbitrarily raising interest rates on outstanding balances. The Fed is accepting public comments on that proposal until Monday. Consumer advocates said such a move would have weakened both Congress' and the Fed's resolve to reform the industry. After much debate, though, Maloney's...

By Nancy Trejos | August 1, 2008; 9:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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