The Checkout

Archive: September 2008

Cadbury Pulls Products in Asia Because of Melamine

Just got off the phone with a Cadbury spokeswoman in Britain who said the only region affected by the recall is Asia. However, she could not tell me where North American Cadbury products are sourced or where the ingredients for North American Cadbury products come from. She forwarded my question to another spokesperson. I'll let you know what they tell me. In the meantime, here is what is known so far, courtesy of the AP: HONG KONG -- A Cadbury spokesman says preliminary results show its Chinese-made chocolates contain the industrial chemical melamine. The spokesman said Monday it was too...

By Annys Shin | September 29, 2008; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (9)

Corn Refiners Whispering Sweet Nothings in Our Ears

First there was Big Tobacco. And we've talked about Big Salt before. Now, it looks like there's.... ...Big High Fructose Corn Syrup? I was watching television about a week ago when I spotted a commercial featuring a couple sitting in the grass. The woman of the pair had in her hand a can of soda, which sparked a little flirtatious banter about, you guessed it, high fructose corn syrup. HFCS, as I'll call it for now, is a sweetener and preservative used in many processed foods, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is made by changing the sugar in cornstarch...

By Annys Shin | September 24, 2008; 7:32 AM ET | Comments (4)

Another Simplicity Crib Recall

There's been so many Simplicity recalls, it's getting hard to keep them straight. A few weeks ago, retailers recalled 900,000 Simplicity bassinets. Today, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that nine major retailers are recalling about 600,000 Simplicity cribs sold between January 2005 and August 2008 because the drop side can come loose, creating a gap in which babies can get caught and suffocate to death. Fortunately in this case, no deaths were associated with the cribs. Simplicity recalled 1 million cribs last September because of problems with the drop side detaching, after the death of three infants. The models...

By Annys Shin | September 17, 2008; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (3)

Credit Card Debt Is Up

No surprise here. Credit card debt is ticking up. TransUnion, one of the three main credit bureaus, reported that in the second quarter of this year, national credit card debt per borrower increased 2.63 percent to $1,717 from the previous quarter's $1,673. That is also an 8.6 percent jump from a year ago, when average debt was $1,581. What state has the most debt-ridden people? Alaska, with $2,494 per borrower. What state has the least? Iowa, with $1,281. How are we faring around here? The District of Columbia has the fourth highest average debt, with $2,009 per borrower. The District...

By Nancy Trejos | September 17, 2008; 7:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

Government Recalls Soccer Goal Net

A soccer net is being recalled after the death of 20-month-old child. The recalled net contains openings that are five inches wide--wide enough for a toddler to get his head through but not wide enough that he can get it out. The recall is being announced this morning. Here is the information: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Firm's Recall Hotline: (877) 516-9707 September 16, 2008 CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772 Release #08-FINAL CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908 Regent Sports Recalls Soccer Goal Nets Following Strangulation Death of a Child WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the...

By Annys Shin | September 16, 2008; 12:18 PM ET | Comments (0)

Why Feb. 10, 2009 is the New Christmas

Today, the Consumer Product Safety Commission's general counsel Cheryl Falvey released a legal opinion on whether the new lead limit, passed as part of the massive product safety reform bill, applies to products that were made and shipped before the law took effect on Aug. 14. Before you fall asleep on me, this is not boring legalese. It means that after Feb.10, 2009, all products on store shelves must comply with a strict new lead limit of 600 parts per million. The limit applies to total lead content and not just lead paint. The Feb. 10 date was imposed by...

By Annys Shin | September 15, 2008; 1:28 PM ET | Comments (0)

Gift Card Gamble

Take a peek inside your wallet, that desk in the spare bedroom or the catch-all drawer in your kitchen. Chances are that you've got some unused gift cards inside. I know I do. Now may be the time to rifle through them. As the roster of retailers filing for bankruptcy protection continues to grow, the Consumers Union is asking the Federal Trade Commission to force stores to accept those gift cards as long as their doors remain open. The advocacy group also wants retailers to set up a separate trust fund of gift card revenues, so that shoppers can be...

By Ylan Mui | September 11, 2008; 11:57 AM ET | Comments (1)

Even the Small Loans Can Hurt

When we think about abusive lending practices, we often think about credit cards and subprime mortgages. But folks, there are many types of loans you can get out there that can get you into trouble. Recently, the Consumer Federation of America, the Consumers Union, and the National Consumer Law Center rated states on how well they protect consumers from excessive interest charges on four types of loans: auto title loans, which are short-term, usually lasting no more than 30 days; payday loans, which are small-dollar, short-term loans that borrowers promise to repay out of their next paycheck; six-month $500 unsecured...

By Nancy Trejos | September 9, 2008; 7:42 PM ET | Comments (1)

Sparks Fly in the District

My colleague Jordan Weissmann reports that the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington health advocacy group, filed a lawsuit yesterday in an effort to stop MillerCoors LLC. from selling Sparks, its alcoholic energy drink, in the District. The suit alleges that Sparks contains ingredients -- caffeine, ginseng and taurine -- that have never been approved for use in alcoholic beverages, and that the government erred by allowing the the drink on the market. The suit, filed in DC Superior Court, accuses MillerCoors of actively marketing Sparks, which contains 6 percent alcohol, to underage consumers. The CSPI...

By Kathy Lally | September 9, 2008; 8:11 AM ET | Comments (0)

How the CPSC is like an Australian speed skater

If you never associated the Consumer Product Safety Commission with an Olympic athlete, let alone a gold medal-winning Olympic athlete, the agency has a little video clip to show you. Yesterday the agency kicked off an all-day meeting to discuss various issues involved in implementing the massive, recently passed product safety law with a recap of Australian Steven Bradbury's unlikely win in the men's 1,000 meter short track event at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Bradbury, to refresh your memory, won after Apolo Anton Ohno, who was favored to win, wiped out along with several other competitors. (Ohno managed to get...

By Annys Shin | September 5, 2008; 1:20 PM ET | Comments (0)

Wal-Mart Wants Mommy

Wal-Mart is making a play for the YouTube generation with the help of a dozen "mommy bloggers" tasked with making their own videos on ways to save money and live better, which just happens to be Wal-Mart's motto. The program launched this week and is called Elevenmoms, but of course, being Wal-Mart, they threw in one more to make 12. One of the bloggers, Jessica Smith of JessicaKnows, hails from Olney, Md. Smith said Wal-Mart contacted her early this summer with this offer: Create short videos of money-saving tips to kick off its new YouTube channel. Smith did not receive...

By Ylan Mui | September 4, 2008; 7:01 AM ET | Comments (3)

Nebraska Beef Pursues Church Ladies

A few weeks ago, I spoke with Bill Lamson, an attorney for Nebraska Beef, the Omaha meat packer that has had two large recalls this year of beef linked to two separate E. coli outbreaks, including one that sickened Whole Foods Market customers in two states. I found him to be exceedingly reasonable and pleasant to speak with. At the time, I asked him about the lawsuit that Nebraska Beef had filed against a church in rural Minnesota in connection with a cluster of E. coli illnesses two years ago among more than a dozen parishioners who ate at the...

By Annys Shin | September 3, 2008; 10:05 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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